Miami-Dade County Democrats are going after one of their own.
The local party passed a resolution Wednesday evening calling for the resignation of long-time Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, a Democrat who is believed to be considering a run for governor or state attorney general in next year’s election.
The local party executive board said it took the action because of what it considers Fernandez Rundle’s “24 year-long record that her office has of failing victims of police brutality and prison abuse in Miami.”
Fernandez Rundle most recently was criticized for her failure to hold anyone accountable for the death of Darren Rainey.
The 50-year-old Rainey, who suffered from mental illness, was found dead in a shower at Dade Correctional Institution five years ago this week. He was reportedly locked in the shower for 90 minutes with the hot water running.
A half-dozen inmates said Rainey pleaded to be let out, but his pleas were ignored. Several inmates claim corrections officers frequently put inmates in the showers with the hot water running for long periods of time as a form of punishment.
Fernandez Rundle defends her decision not to charge any of the corrections officers involved in the Rainey case pointing to the medical examiner’s report that concluded Rainey’s death was accidental. The report cites his schizophrenia and heart disease, as well as his confinement to the shower, as contributing factors to his death.
The report says Rainey suffered no burns as the result of being left in the shower for that long with the hot water running. Paramedics who responded to the incident said they did witness burns on his body.
Both the state attorney and the county have refused to allow an independent review of the autopsy.
Erica Selig is a member of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party’s executive committee. She also serves on the local party’s criminal justice committee which drafted the resolution calling for Fernandez Rundle’s resignation.
Selig says the local party passed the resolution to send a message to party members, the community and members of law enforcement.
“This doesn’t have to be this way. We hear about police shootings all the time. We hear about every day another case where someone isn’t held accountable,” said Selig. “I think it’s really incumbent on the Democratic Party because the Democratic Party stands for the values of equal just for for everyone, for accountability, for when people break the law.”
Selig says Fernandez Rundle has failed to hold law enforcement accountable for any wrongdoing that has occurred in her more than two decades in office.
Fernandez Rundle defends her record. She says while state law provides law enforcement with broad protections, she has still prosecuted more than 300 law enforcement officers.
Selig admits the resolution is more “symbolic” and isn’t likely to lead to Fernandez Rundle’s resignation. She sees it as being more of an organizing tool for the Democratic Party.
“Since this resolution passed we want to use it to inform voters that the Democratic Party just took a tough stand against police brutality,” said Selig.