Video: CO suffers fractured spine in planned attack by 6 Rikers inmates
The violent attack occurred inside the department’s much-touted specialized unit for younger inmates who act out
By Reuven Blau
New York Daily News
RIKERS ISLAND, N.Y. — A violent gang of six inmates left a city correction officer with a fractured spine on Saturday after a premeditated beatdown on Rikers Island, according to multiple sources and an internal report.
The officer was initially hit in the head by inmate Steven Espinal, a reputed Bloods gang member, inside the George Motchan Detention Center at 6:27 p.m., Correction Department records show.
Five other inmates believed to be gang members joined the fray after Espinal jumped the officer, knocking him unconscious.
Responding officers used pepper spray on several assailants to break up the melee, records show. The entire incident was captured on video surveillance.
The injured officer, whom the Daily News is declining to name due to security concerns, was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital.
A photo obtained by The News shows him stretched out in a hospital bed wearing a neck brace.
Espinal was allegedly heard planning the pummeling during a phone call earlier in the day, according to one jail insider.
The violent attack occurred inside the department’s much-touted specialized unit for younger inmates who act out.
Family of injured Rikers Correction Officer tells me the CO “always feared for his safety before attack.”— Ken Buffa (@KenBuffa) February 11, 2018
That CO is now hospitalized after a gang of inmates beat him up.
The assault left the CO w/ multiple injuries including a fractured spine. @NBCNewYork pic.twitter.com/GXDJ7g6gAl
In 2015, mayor de Blasio ended solitary confinement for all inmates 21 and younger, citing research showing it was damaging to young minds. Instead, those inmates were sent to the Transitional Restoration Unit, where they were to receive added counseling and programs.
On Saturday, the unions representing jail officers slammed de Blasio and his inability to reduce violence behind bars. There were over 140 stabbings and slashings in city jails last year.
“The mayor’s policies are going to get one of us killed,” said Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association.
All the inmates involved in Saturday’s attack were 21 or younger and will not be placed in solitary, he added. “Tomorrow they will get visits and shop in the commissary like everyone else,” he said.
Department officials said the inmates would all face added criminal charges.
“Not implementing punitive segregation for inmates under 22 is a completely absurd concept,” said Sidney Schwartzbaum, a retired jail union leader.
©2018 New York Daily News