A lawsuit filed today by Orlando attorney Mark NeJame seeks damages for the family of an Orange County inmate who was found dead in his cell after being attacked by an Orlando Police dog.
On Aug. 6, 2015, 22-year-old Max Gracia Jr. was arrested by the Orlando Police Department after he allegedly robbed a Circle K store on North John Young Parkway using a gun.
Gracia was eventually tracked down with a K-9 and was able to fight off the dog. However, he was bitten multiple times on the left thigh and leg, according to an autopsy report.
Photo via Orange County Jail
After the encounter with the dog, Gracia tried to escape by swimming in Lake Mann for two hours, where he was eventually arrested by OPD.
Gracia was charged on four counts, including robbery with a firearm and resisting an officer with violence.
Four days later, Gracia was found unresponsive in his jail cell. According to NeJame, "while there his injuries worsened and became infected solely due to the lack of care, compassion, treatment or concern of those attending to him. As a result, infection and fever raged through his body while he moaned and cried for help. Rather than treat and care for his injuries, he was unbelievably written up for 'malingering, feigning illness.'"
Gracia died at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Gracia's death was later ruled a homicide by the Ninth Judicial Circuit Medical Examiner's Office.
Following the death, Corrections Department spokeswoman Carrie Proudfit started a critical review and other internal investigations surrounding the case. "Since the launch of the internal review process, one registered nurse has resigned, while two other healthcare professionals remain under administrative review," Proudfit says.
OPD also released a statement claiming all officers acted appropriately. "OPD has completed an initial review of the incident, and it appears all officers acted within policy and the K-9 performed the job it was trained to do," the statement says. "The Department is conducting an internal investigation since the K-9 bite is listed as a contributing factor in Gracia's death."