WMFE is Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming on 90.7 FM and Classical Music on 90.7 HD2. Part of the community since 1965, WMFE focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
CLOSEOpt Out: I already like WMFE!

Like us on Facebook!

Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

Max Gracia died in Orange County jail after being bitten by a police dog. His family wants answers.

Play Audio

Image: Max Gracia’s funeral, courtesy of Willine Gracia, Orlandoweekly.com

The last time Willine Gracia saw her son alive was at the beginning of August 2015. The mother says she took 22-year-old Max Gracia to the courthouse to get his passport because he was soon leaving for airline training.

Days later, on Aug. 6, Max Gracia would be arrested by Orlando Police officers who accused him of robbing a convenience store with a gun. Gracia tried to escape by hiding in Lake Mann, but officers sent in a K9 after him. The police dog bit him multiple times before he was captured and taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center for treatment and then the Orange County Jail. Four days after his arrest, detectives told Willine her son was dead, killed hours earlier by a fatal blood infection that stemmed from the dog bites.

After two years of searching for answers, Gracia’s family filed a federal lawsuit against Orange County, alleging a “culture of neglect” caused health staff to fail to provide adequate medical care for Gracia, ultimately leading to his death. A spokesperson says Orange County doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but in previous statements, the county has said its corrections department launched internal investigations after Gracia’s death and updated the medical staff’s training regarding sepsis. At least one nurse resigned and two others were given reprimands.

Willine says she doesn’t know if her son committed a crime, but that doesn’t matter – either way, Gracia was guaranteed a day in court and a constitutional right to medical care. She says, “I don’t know what happened with the robbery. My child shouldn’t have died.”


Sign Up For 90.7 WMFE's Newsletter

Catch up on the latest Central Florida news and get updates on programs, events and more.


WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity