3 more Correction officers guilty in Rikers inmate beating, cover up

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N.J. Burkett has details on the guilty verdict against 5 New York City correction officers.

Three more New York City Department of Correction officers who had opted for a bench trial were found guilty Friday in connection with a 2012 gang assault of an inmate and subsequent cover-up at Rikers Island.

Captain Gerald Vaughn was convicted of the beating and cover up of inmate Jahmal Lightfoot, while officers Harmon Frierson and Dwayne Maynard were convicted of official misconduct.

Verdicts were returned by a jury against six other correction officers on Tuesday, on the jury's fourth day of deliberations. Five were convicted of all charges, including the most serious count of first-degree attempted gang assault. A sixth officer, Jeffrey Richard, who was not directly involved in the beating, was acquitted of all charges related to the cover-up.

Those officers -- former Chief Eliseo Perez and officers Alfred Rivera, Tobias Parker, Jose Parra and David Rodriguez -- were convicted of attempted gang assault, attempted assault, assault, falsifying business records, offering false instrument for filing and official misconduct. The top count carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.

According to DOC policy, they have all been fired because they were found guilty.

The incident began when the inmate, Jahmal Lightfoot, then 28, dropped a piece of metal, likely a handmade weapon. When the guards went to pick it up, a scuffle ensued involving the officers and Lightfoot.

Afterwards, he was taken to a holding pen and severely beaten.

Two Correction officials ordered staff members to assault the inmate, and officials then faked their reports, claiming the inmate had attacked first.

Lightfoot suffered fractures to both of his eye sockets, a broken nose and other facial injuries that caused his eyes to swell shut.

"We have zero tolerance for any illegal behavior on the part of staff, and the officers found guilty of felonies will be terminated," DOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte said in a statement. "The vast majority of our officers carry out their duties with care and integrity, and we are taking many steps to ensure that all staff adhere to the highest professionalism. We are confident that our reforms are yielding a quality staff in which all New Yorkers can take pride."

But new Correction Officers' Benevolent Association President Elias Husamudeen had a different take on the verdict and released a blistering statement.

"Today's ruling by Judge Barrett is outrageous and, in fact, contradicts a jury's ruling on Monday that fully exonerated a correction officer facing the same charges," he said. "When the legal system in this country continues to persecute correction officers for doing their job, while defending violent criminals, everyone should be outraged. This union will never allow our members' lives to be destroyed in order to satisfy the political agendas of some."
Related Topics:
newsrikers islandinmatesassaultcorrection officerNew York CityRikers Island
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