Video: Rikers COs use pepper spray to take down 10 inmates during fight
The inmates refused to go into their cells after the slashing of a high-profile inmate last week
By Thomas Tracy and Reuven Blau
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — City correction officers in riot gear fought with inmates who refused to go into their cells after the slashing of a high-profile inmate last week on Rikers Island, videos obtained by the Daily News show.
A group of 10 inmates, all reported members of the Trinitarios gang, used green mattresses to barricade themselves inside a cafeteria unit in the Robert N. Davoren Complex on Dec. 11 at around 11:30 a.m., the video shows.
A team of Correction Department Emergency Service Unit members carrying batons and shields broke up the barricade by shooting pepper spray at the inmates and forcefully taking them to the ground.
The inmates were upset after Manual Rivera, 18, was allegedly attacked by Tyreek Johnson, 21, earlier in the day at the same facility.
Rivera, a suspected Trinitarios gang member, is among the accused in the brutal machete killing of 15-year-old Lesandro (Junior) Guzman-Feliz in June that was captured in shocking detail on security and cell phone video footage.
After the Rivera slashing, jail officials ordered a lockdown of the facility. It took officers “several hours” to secure the building, according to a jail insider.
Inmates were against going back into their cells where they would be blocked from visits and making phone calls.
“When you ask the inmate to do something they don’t want to do, it’s a struggle because of the dramatic limitations of our power,” said Joe Russo, the union president who represents top jail supervisors.
The number of lockdowns in city jails has gone up by 32% from 2016 to 2017, according to the city’s Board of Correction, an oversight body.
There were a total of 2,433 lockdowns in 2017, compared to 1,849 in 2016, the Board reported in January.
Inmate advocates contend that officers have abused their power and fail to deescalate tense situations.
Lesandro was a member of the NYPD Explorers program who dreamed of becoming a police detective. The teen was yanked out of a Fordham Heights bodega and butchered by members of the Trinitarios, who mistook him for a gang rival, according to authorities and social media apologies allegedly sent by the killers.
All told, 15 suspects have been arrested and charged with the murder.