Six Former Rikers Island Officers Get Prison Time For Inmate's Brutal Beating
Six former city correction officers on Rikers Island, including a high-ranking chief and a captain, became inmates on Friday when they were sentenced for their roles in the brutal beating of a prisoner.
The heaviest sentence, 6.5 years in state prison, went to Eliseo Perez Jr., the once assistant head of security at the city Correction Department convicted of ordering the 2012 attack on inmate Jahmal Lightfoot.
Former Capt. Gerald Vaughn — who according to trial testimony wanted to see Lightfoot's "teeth on the floor" — was hit with 5.5 years behind bars.
Four officers — David Rodriguez, Tobias Parker, Jose Parra and Alfred Rivera — convicted of carrying out the beating in a jail search pen out of view of security cameras were sentenced to 4.5 years in state prison.
One by one in front of a packed gallery in Bronx Supreme Court , the six officers convicted of violent felonies stepped up to the defense table to learn their fate, in a courtroom so crowded with their relatives and supporters that dozens of them spilled into the hallway.
After the sentencing, which ran for nearly three hours, the six officers were taken to their old stomping grounds on Rikers Island for processing, officials said. The city Correction Department declined to comment on if the officers would spend the night at Rikers or get any special treatment — though city records listed all of them early Friday evening at the jail’s infirmary, away from the general inmate population.
They will eventually be sent to prisons upstate, where they will be housed in protective custody, a state Corrections spokesman said.
Another two ex-officers charged in the beating, Harmon Frierson and Dwayne Maynard, were sentenced to 500 hours of community service on misdemeanor charges for their roles in covering up the assault.
Before handing down the sentences, a somber Bronx Judge Steven Barrett said the convicted officers had "succumbed to their worst instincts and to the casual violence that is too often prevalent among the prison population these men were entrusted to watch."
"There are orders that cannot be followed," he added.
Perez, the head of an anti-violence unit at Rikers, was charged with ordering officers to kick Lightfoot's teeth in after singling him out during a weapons search to send a message to other inmates following a spree of jail stabbings.
Lightfoot, 31, testified that officers repeatedly stomped on his head while others held back his arms and legs.
After he came forward, a probe from the Department of Investigation and Bronx District Attorney's office resulted in indictments.
"What was supposed to be left behind that search pen, behind that white sheet, because of Jahmal Lightfoot's courage has come to light," said Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Piergrossi.
The officers fabricated evidence to claim Lightfoot had a razor on him, prosecutors charged during a three-month trial.
A ninth indicted officer, Jeffrey Richard, was acquitted and still serves as a correction officer. The 10th, Capt. Michael Pollard, had a medical issue and is yet to face trial. He retired this summer.
Lightfoot, who admitted in court that he had been part of the Bloods street gang, was at the city jail awaiting sentencing on a robbery plea.
He sat in the first row of the jury box during Friday's sentencing and declined to speak to reporters.
Lightfoot and his lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, have filed a lawsuit against the city.