Florida Sheriffs pepper-spray retiree to death

Reuters / Max Whittaker
The Sheriff’s Department of Lee County, Florida will be going to court later this year, but they won’t be the good guys sitting in front of a judge.

The estate of Nick Christie is going after local law enforcement officers to revenge a wrongful death.

Christine, then 62, passed away two-and-a-half years ago after Lee County sheriffs allegedly stripped him naked, strapped him to a chair, bound his mouth and placed a hood over his head — and then discharged pepper-spray on him 10 times for two days.

It won’t be an easy fight for Lee County authorities, either — the prosecution has photographic proof of the mishandling of Christine.

"This photo is a picture of a man who is strapped to a chair naked inside a jail for hours with a hood over his face. That evokes thoughts of being tortured," attorney Nick DiCello, representing the Christie family, tells a local Fox affiliate.

Monshay Gibbs, a deputy trainee at the jail at the time of the incident, says in a video deposition that Christine pleaded with authorities to take him to the hospital. By the time he was admitted, however, he was close to dying. What started as a vacation for the Ohio man ended tragically after he died in a hospital room.

Physicians declared the death a homicide, specifically citing shock caused by the pepper-spray as the cause of death. Nearly three years later, no charges have been brought against the force.

On January 5, 2010, Assistant State Attorney Dean R. Plattner wrote in a memo that “The evidence presented in this case does not legally prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any individual or group of jail personnel had any intent to kill Nicholas Christie, or otherwise committed an act of murder. Even considering the lowest level of criminal homicide, manslaughter, the evidence does not prove that such criminal offense was committed.”

For the family of the man, who was arrested for disorderly intoxication, dismissing the crime as not criminal is a travesty.

“Nothing could warrant the treatment and death this guy experienced,” DiCello adds to the Injury News Board. “A 62-yr-old retiree strapped to a chair and died. I don’t get it.”

The wrongful death case will finally go before a judge in mid-2012.