Correction officer burned, punched by inmate at Rikers Island

RIKERS ISLAND (WABC) -- Another correction officer was attacked at Rikers Island - making it the fourth attack by an inmate in just over a month.

The Correction Officer's Benevolent Association, the union representing correction officers, said the inmate, who was in jail on murder and assault charges, threw hot water at the officer's face and repeatedly punched him.

The assault happened Saturday night in an enhanced supervision housing unit.

The union said the inmate was also responsible for assaulting a different correction officer last year.

"We are heading down a real slippery slope, down a real dark alley," said COBA President Elias Husamudeen during a Sunday evening press conference called in response to the number of recent attacks. "We need these jails to be safe and we need these jails to be safe today."

Last week a female officer was reportedly punched in the face while escorting an inmate out of a Bronx criminal court and into a DOC vehicle, and in a separate incident the day before, a male officer was reportedly cut in the face by another inmate.

The attacks follow the violent assault on Officer Jean Souffrant, 39, who was hospitalized with a fractured spine after several inmates ruthlessly attacked him in February.

In another brutal attack caught on surveillance video last year, the inmate responsible for the beating of an officer had even called 311 threatening to kill an officer before the attack.

Husamudeen accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of failing to look out for the safety of correction officers and as a result allowing inmate assaults on officers to increase under de Blasio's watch.

"Do I think de Blasio wants to see anyone of us to get killed? No," Husamudeen said. "But, I don't think he cares enough to do anything to stop it from happening."

Husamudeen said COBA is calling on the city to remove hot pots freely accessibly by inmates immediately from Rikers to prevent another scalding water attack. He also called on the city to admit restrictions on punitive segregation for violent behavior hasn't worked and has led to an increase in officer assaults.

"We need stiffer penalties. We need harsher penalties," Husamudeen said.

In response to Saturday's attack DOC Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Peter Thorne wrote in a statement, "Outrageous attacks like this, on an officer just doing his job helping keep the rest of us safe, are exactly why this inmate was immediately placed into more restrictive custody. This inmate will also be arrested and face serious charges."

Thorne's statement did not directly address Husamudeen's criticism of the Mayor's policies or concerns about what COBA calls an uptick in officer assaults.

A Mayor's Management Report by the Department of Correction examining the first part of fiscal year 2018 identified a 21.1% increase "serious injuries to staff as a result of inmate assaults compared to last year."

Thorne couldn't comment directly on the Mayor's Management Report Sunday night but provided alternative statistics indicating that while overall assaults on staff were up 2% in 2017 compared to 2016, assaults on staff resulting in serious or minor injury have decreased 16% in the last three years.

According to COBA more than 2,000 officers have been assaulted in the last four years, meaning on average more than one officer is assaulted in NYC a day.
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