Corrections Officers Fired After Incident

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of two Okaloosa County Corrections Officers after a violent incident on January 30, 2023. 

 

The deputies, James Wade Filpi and Justin Michael Jordan, were arrested by sheriff’s deputies for misdemeanor battery. However, the affidavit accuses Jordan of attempting to cover up the attack after the fact.

What happened, according to the Sheriff’s Statement

On January 29th – around 9 pm, an inmate allegedly spit blood in the face of an unnamed corrections officer. 

 

Sergeant Filpi and his supervisor and co-defendant, Lieutenant Jordan, heard about the spitting incident after the fact. They allegedly discussed the situation with the corrections officer involved in the incident, and told the officer they would have handled an inmate who had spit in their face more aggressively.

 

After that alleged conversation, the trio went to the holding unit, known as a pod, holding the alleged spitter. Once there, Lt. Jordan allegedly berated the control officer for not letting everyone know what had happened via the radio system fast enough. Additionally, according to an affidavit related to Lieutenant Jordan’s arrest, Jordan entered the control tower and opened the door to the pod where the incarcerated victim was.

 

After Jordan opened the door, he allegedly made a statement to Sargeant Filpi and the corrections officer involved in the original spitting incident. The affidavit says, “although [Jordan] denied any direct instructions to take a course of hostile action towards the victim, the defendant admitted his statements to co-defendant Filpi and the other corrections officer with them ‘could have been interpreted as a charge to take action against the victim.’”

 

 

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Okaloosa County Jail Cell
A cell in the Okaloosa County Jail

During this time, according to the officer at the tower controls, the affidavit says that “the operator recalled hearing co-defendant Filpi asking over the radio for the victim’s cell to be opened and then later closed. The operator also recalled the defendant manipulating the controls in the tower to open and close the victim’s cell during those times.”

 

Then, according to the allegedly assaulted inmate, the corrections officer ordered the other inmates out of the cell where the victim lived and attacked the victim with open and closed fist strikes. The victim told investigators, “he received blows to his head, face and upper body without provocation or justification,” according to the arrest report. 

After the alleged attack, no attempt to secure medical aid for the victim was made, according to the police report.

 

According to the affidavit, Filpi told Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputies he went into the victim’s cell to scare him and yelled at him but said he didn’t physically attack the victim – as alleged by the third corrections officer and the victim’s cellmates. The defendant said he “pushed the victim to maintain a safe distance and possibly grabbed the victim’s jumpsuit to maintain control of his movements as he yelled at the victim and threatened him with criminal prosecution,” according to the affidavit. Additionally, according to the sheriff’s deputy’s sworn testimony, Filpi admitted there was no reason for the law to be followed for him to confront the inmate. 

Okaloosa County’s Statement on the Allegations Against Former Corrections Officers

In a statement to Mid Bay News, Okaloosa County Public Information Officer Nick Tomecek referred to the two defendants as ‘former corrections officers.’ The Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners, not the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, runs the Okaloosa County Jail. 

 

The statement said the Okaloosa County Department of Corrections “took immediate action following a recent investigation,” which resulted in the arrests of Filpi and Jordan. 

 

After their arrests, the corrections officers were fired from their jobs with Okaloosa County. “The Okaloosa Department of Corrections is committed to upholding the highest standards of professionalism and integrity, and will not tolerate excessive use of force or any other illegal activity by its staff members,” a statement from the county said. 

 

As of Tuesday, February 14th, neither former correctional officer was in the Okaloosa County Jail system. According to the Clerk’s Office, both Filpi and Jordan were released on a $5,000 bond. Arraignments for both will occur on March 7th, 2023, at the Crestview Courthouse.

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