Correction Officers to be Charged in Alleged Beating of Inmate

By Jeanmarie EvellyMurray Weiss and Janon Fisher  on June 25, 2013 8:33pm

 A former high-ranking Department of Correction employee and nine current DOC staffers are expected to be charged Wednesday in the alleged beating of an inmate on Rikers Island, according to the Bronx District Attorney's Office.
A former high-ranking Department of Correction employee and nine current DOC staffers are expected to be charged Wednesday in the alleged beating of an inmate on Rikers Island, according to the Bronx District Attorney's Office.
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David Pickoff

RIKERS ISLAND — A former high-ranking Department of Correction employee and nine current DOC staffers are expected to be charged Wednesday in the alleged beating of an inmate on Rikers Island, according to the Bronx District Attorney's Office.

An indictment against the defendants is set to be unsealed and all 10 are expected to be arraigned in state Supreme Court on Wednesday, according to an advisory from Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.

The charges stem from a July 11, 2012 incident involving Jahmal Lightfoot, 28, who was serving time at Rikers on a robbery charge.

The alleged beating at the hands of correction officers left Lightfoot with "horrific facial injuries," including loss of vision, loss of teeth and facial disfigurement, according to Lightfoot's attorney Sanford Rubenstein.

"We know he was assaulted viciously by a number of COs," Rubenstein said, calling Wednesday's expected indictment "the first step to getting justice for what happened to Jahmal Lightfoot."

Lightfoot, who is currently serving a four-year sentence at Franklin Correctional Facility in upstate New York for second-degree robbery, sued the DOC and the city in March for an unspecified amount, according to court documents.

Rubenstein said he plans to hold a press conference on Wednesday alongside Lightfoot's mother.

A source close to the investigation said the officers involved claimed the incident started after Lightfoot swiped one CO with a sharpened piece of metal.

Norman Seabrook, president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association, called the pending charges against the officers a "witch hunt" by the Bronx district attorney, whom he accused of "wanting to make a name for himself."

"[Johnson] is overzealous in prosecuting our members, but he's not prosecuting inmates who regularly attack them," Seabrook said.

"Our officers patrol the worst precinct in New York — prison facilities — where hardened criminals always assault them."

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