BRONX SUPREME COURT — Six of the correction officers convicted of the brutal beating of a Rikers Island inmate in 2012 were sentenced to prison time on Friday and will head back to Rikers Island for processing before getting sent upstate.
Five correction officers—49-year-old Eliseo Perez Jr., 47-year-old Alfred Rivera, 46-year-old Tobias Parker, 47-year-old Jose Parra and 41-year-old David Rodriguez—had been convicted of attempted gang assault in June for attacking inmate Jahmal Lightfoot, who suffered multiple fractures to his face after the attack, according to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office.
Perez was sentenced to 6.5 years behind bars, while Rivera, Parker, Parra and Rodriguez were all sentenced to 4.5 years.
The officers declined to comment during the proceedings except for Parker and Rodriguez, who both spoke briefly.
Parker apologized to his family for putting them through the rigors of a trial and said he would handle his sentence with dignity.
"I am going to serve my time with honor, as always, as I’ve served my country and this city," he said.
Rodriguez teared up as his attorney spoke about his family, and he told them that he loved them.
"I just wanted to tell my family, my wife, I love them so much,” he said.
Perez, the former assistant chief for security, had ordered members of the Emergency Services Unit to assault Lightfoot while overseeing a search of the jail on July 11, 2012, saying, “This guy thinks he's tough. When you get him to the intake area, take him to a separate pen and knock his ------ teeth out," according to testimony.
Rivera, Parker, Parra and Rodriguez then attacked Lightfoot in a search pen that had no video cameras, kicking him in the head and fracturing his face several times, according to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office.
The officers faced maximum sentences of 15 years in prison.
Captain Gerald Vaughn, 49, was also found guilty of assault and official misconduct in the case, and Correction Officers Harmon Frierson, 42, and Dwayne Maynard, 45, were convicted of official misconduct as well.
Vaughn was sentenced to 5.5 years behind bars, while Frierson and Maynard were given conditional discharges with 500 hours of community service. Maynard said he had always lived a life of service and regretted his actions at Rikers.
Vaughn had faced up to 15 years in prison, and Frierson and Maynard faced up to one year in jail.
Several attorneys for the correction officers declared that they would appeal the case immediately after their clients’ sentences were handed down by Justice Steven Barrett.
Barrett referred to imposing sentences on the correction officers as a “sad duty” but maintained that it was his responsibility to send six of them to prison.
“At Rikers Island one day several years ago, officers entrusted with the duty to maintain order and discipline without resorting to force 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,” he said.
Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Piergrossi headed up prosecution of the case and referred to the day of Lightfoot’s beating as “a day that’s going to live in infamy.”
He stressed that this case never would have come to light if not for the courage of Lightfoot to come forward about it and that the high ranking officers involved spoke to a strong and deplorable culture of corruption at Rikers Island.
“If the people who run the department are ordering hits on inmates, what does that say about the rest of the department?” he asked.
The Department of Investigation assisted with the matter, and DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said in a statement that Friday's sentencing represented "a measure of justice for the brutal acts perpetrated by former correction employees, including high-ranking officials."
Lightfoot declined to comment on the proceedings through his attorney Sanford Rubenstein, who said the sentences showed that correction officers were not above the law.
“Let the message go out to correction officers all over this country that if you viciously assault an inmate, you will become an inmate yourself,” he said.