Florida family call for jail reform after gay man allegedly killed by cellmate

A family in Florida is calling for jail reforms and preparing to make a wrongful death claim against a Broward jail after gay man Janard Geffrard was allegedly killed by his cellmate.

Geffrard, 29, was being held in a cell alongside Kevin Barnes, 35, in Broward County sheriff’s office jail when he was allegedly fatally beaten.

According to an affidavit obtained by ABC News, Barnes has since confessed to beating Geffrard on 16 December and told them he did it because the father-of-one was “gay”. Barnes is now facing charges of attempted murder.

Attorney Josiah Graham, who is representing Geffrard’s family, has confirmed that Geffrard was an out gay man, as well as the father of a 10-year-old son who celebrated his first birthday without his dad on Tuesday (2 January).

Janard Geffrard was allegedly killed by his cellmate because he was gay. Now his family is calling for jail reform. (Unsplash)

Now, Geffrard’s family are demanding answers, as well as jail reforms, after learning from an affidavit that a deputy only arrived at the cell more than 20 minutes after the altercation took place – at which point, Geffrard was unresponsive and bleeding from his mouth.

According to an arrest report seen by NBC Miami, surveillance footage sees Geffrard’s cellmate walk out of view, toward the cell’s toilet. Three minutes later, the footage shows Barnes put Geffrard in a chokehold.

The report states that Barnes then paced up and down the cell for ten minutes before stomping on Geffrard’s head and upper torso. Eventually, just under half an hour after the alleged attack took place, a deputy opens a cell door to find Geffrard unresponsive.

Barnes admitted to choking Geffrard because “he did not agree with his lifestyle because he was gay,” the report states.

Geffrard’s family’s lawyer Josiah Graham commented on the attack: “The news of his death was obviously a complete shock to the family. His mom is particularly devastated. Because this is her firstborn son.

Geffrard’s cellmate later admitted to the beating, claiming he did it because Geffrard was “gay”, according to an affidavit. (Photo by Micheline Pelletier/Sygma via Getty Images)

“It’s nothing that any parent should go through, hearing the fact that your child passed away is one thing, but to hear that they were brutally executed because they were gay – it’s just a completely entirely different scenario you’re dealing with.”

Graham stated that, ten days after the attack, Geffrard was declared brain dead.

While Broward Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Unit has launched an investigation into the incident, which has so far resulted in at least four individuals being put on administrative leave with pay, Geffrard’s family is calling for more to be done.

After Geffrard was arrested on a burglary charge in May 2023, he was found unfit to stand trial. Barnes, who was arrested over a probation violation and a grand theft auto case, was also declared unfit to stand trial.

Graham told ABC News: “The next step is to determine a proper placement for someone who’s mentally ill. Do we just house him in jail indefinitely? Or do we place him in some type of rehabilitative facility at a hospital? Does he go home? That determination had not been made at the time he was killed.”

Geffrard’s family is calling for reforms that would address the treatment of inmates with mental health difficulties, as well as surveillance in jails to prevent attacks like this from occurring in the first place. The family also plans to file a wrongful death claim.

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