A city correction officer just returning from vacation was attacked by a group of inmates on Rikers Island, the latest in a series of attacks over the past week, according to department records and sources.
Five inmates jumped Officer Ariel Rodriguez and another unidentified jail officer around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Otis Bantum Correctional Center.
“They wanted to send a message,” a source said.
Inmate Anthony Nicoletti allegedly hit Rodriguez’s right eye and caused it to swell shut. Nicollette, who is charged with murdering his girlfriend in a park, was rearrested Wednesday and is awaiting arraignment.
The other inmates allegedly involved in the attack are: Theodore Simpson, Dayson Fernandez, Tyrone Williams and Eugene Terrell.
They are all awaiting arraignment on charges of assaulting a peace officer and gang assault, officials said.
“These assaults on our officers were unacceptable,” said Correction Department Commissioner Joseph Ponte.
“We have zero tolerance for assaults on staff and are deeply committed to creating a culture of safety. These inmates will be arrested and will face serious charges. An investigation is ongoing.”
The union representing jail blamed department brass.
“Until the Department prioritizes the safety of officers, civilians, and inmates these brutal attacks by emboldened inmates will continue,” said Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association.
“A real commitment to safety starts with maintaining responsible punitive segregation,” he added On Wednesday, 11 officers were rushed to the hospital after they were injured with pepper spray used during a difficult cell extraction inside the Manhattan Detention Complex.
And inmate Brandon Jobson, 19, last Friday allegedly hit a female correction captain in the face inside a Rikers facility shortly after 9 a.m.
Jobson was rearrested that same day and charged with assault, obstructing governmental administration, and harassment, court records show.
Jail officials insist that the number of serious assaults against staff has gone down by 50% this calendar year compared to last year.
But multiple jail insiders contend the numbers are completely out of whack due to pressure from high ranking official to downplay incidents. Department officials vehemently deny that allegation.