RIKERS ISLAND, New York (WABC) --A group of New York City Department of Correction officers and supervisors were sentenced Friday in connection with a 2012 gang assault of an inmate and subsequent cover-up at Rikers Island.
The defendants were convicted in a 50-count criminal indictment in the Bronx in the attack on Jahmal Lightfoot and for covering it up.
Eliseo Perez Jr., former assistant head of security in city's Correction Department, was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.
Perez was the head of a Rikers anti-violence unit when authorities said he ordered officers to kick Lightfoot's "teeth in."
Former Correction Capt. Gerald Vaughn was sentenced 5 1/2 years in prison. Both had faced up to 15 years on the top charge.
Four officers who they supervised -- Tobias Parker, Jose Parra, Alfred Rivera and David Rodriguez -- were sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison.
Two correction officers convicted of official misconduct, Harmon Frierson and Dwayne Maynard, got 500 hours community service conditional discharge.
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.
"Until the mentality of correction officers is changed and they do not believe they can do this with impunity, we will not see an end to this violenlce," said Lightfoot's attorney, Sanford Rubenstein.
The convictions come as state and federal prosecutors have been trying to crack down on violence against inmates at Rikers, but defense attorneys say justice was not served.
"Having lived this case for four years and having obviously participated very vigorously through the trial, I do not believe that the evidence that was submitted rose to the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt," said defense attorney Renee Hill.