A former chief for security and four other officers at New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex have been convicted of felony charges in the brutal beating of an inmate, CBS News reports.
Former Assistant Chief for Security Eliseo Perez and officers Alfred Rivera, Tobias Parker, Jose Parra and David Rodriguez were convicted Tuesday of charges, including attempted gang assault, in connection with the 2012 beating of inmate Jahmal Lightfoot at the jail. Jeffrey Richard, another officer involved in the case who was accused of helping to cover up the horrific attack, was found not guilty.
Prosecutors charged that Lightfoot’s troubles started when officers were conducting a search of his cell for any prohibited items. During the search, Lightfoot reportedly stared at Perez. Perez then told a captain and five other officers that Lightfoot “thinks he’s tough” and that the inmate should be beaten.
The guards then led Lightfoot into a small cell and beat him up so badly that he suffered two fractured eye sockets, a broken nose and bruises that left his eyes swollen shut. Officers then filed false reports, prosecutors charged, saying that the inmate had slashed an officer with a sharpened piece of metal, prompting the attack.
Norman Seabrook, president of the union representing rank-and-file correction officers, called the verdict unjust in a statement released Tuesday, CBS News notes.
“Today’s verdict is an absolute travesty and yet another example of how correction officers are treated differently and disrespected for doing the job they are sworn to do: protect New Yorkers,” Seabrook said.
New York City Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte, however, said that there is “zero tolerance for any illegal behavior on the part of staff.”
Perez retired in 2013, but the four other guards had remained on modified duty as of Tuesday. However, Ponte said that those convicted of felonies would be terminated, CBS News reports.
Read more at CBS News.