A Florida correctional officer got away with kicking and punching an inmate in the face after learning that he had plans to marry a White woman. A jury found former Maj. Michael Baxter innocent of using excessive force, but did find him guilty of falsifying records. Baxter faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison when he goes before U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle on April 10.
The July 2015 incident involved Apalachee Correctional Institution inmate Darren Glover. The 44-year-old man was set to marry his fiancee the day after taking his wedding photos. Due to swollen ankles, Glover did not have his boots laced up tightly during his photo shoot. This led to the confrontation between Baxter and Glover as the officer was angry that Glover had not been disciplined for his uniform violation.
The 49-year-old officer claimed that Glover attacked him first during the interrogation, but Baxter’s secretary testified to a different motive. Shannon Watts, who is also best friend to Baxter’s wife, was conflicted about coming forward. Watts was recommended for the job by officer Baxter and had loyalties to others who worked at the prison. Over time, it became difficult to keep what she witnessed a secret.
Watts saw Baxter kicking Glover in the face. She quickly realized that the attack wasn’t about shoe strings nor was Baxter acting in self-defense. And when Watts asked Baxter, on behalf of Glover’s fiancee, why the wedding was cancelled, he offered a reason that shocked her.
“That n*gger did not need to be marrying a White woman,” Watts testified that Baxter responded. “He needed to be in confinement all along.”
Watts admitted to helping Baxter falsify the incident report regarding use of excessive force which was enough to find him guilty. But Baxter’s testimony about Glover being armed, charging at him, and head-butting him convinced the jury that he had acted appropriately. U.S. Attorney Christopher Canova argued that Glover didn’t even fight back, though he could have to protect himself.
“The victim is a muscular man, and he could’ve likely gotten the officers off of him if he wanted to resist,” Canova wrote in his brief. “However, he simply wanted to get married and not get any more prison time for assaulting officers.”
While the jury was not persuaded by Canova’s argument nor Watts’ testimony about the beating being racially-motivated, there may be some justice at Baxter’s sentencing. But the decision will all be in the judge’s hands.
A race soldier working as a CO in a Florida jail named Michael Baxter found out a Black inmate named Darren Glover was getting married to a white woman. Baxter then beat Glover. A white supremacist jury determined there was no excessive force used. This is a pic of the victim pic.twitter.com/ybVWiA7QHz
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) January 26, 2018