RIKERS ISLAND — A pair of Rikers Island correction officers were convicted of assault for beating up an inmate and later claiming they intervened to stop him from committing suicide, according to the Bronx District Attorney's Office.
The incident started when inmate Carl Williams was being taken back to Rikers Island after a court appearance on March 15, 2013, and started cursing at a group of officers after they took a bag of food away from him and threw it away, prosecutors said.
Officers Christopher Huggins, 34, Michael Dorsainvil, 36, and Mark Anglin, 38, put Williams in a holding cell and held him down on the floor while Huggins pummeled his head with his knee and Officer Ronald Donnelley, 63, stood watching outside, according to trial testimony.
Williams suffered several injuries to his head and needed nine stitches to treat a cut to his mouth after the attack, officials said.
The officers later claimed the incident was sparked by Williams pulling a string from his bag and threatening to hang himself with it, but video from the Department of Correction later showed that Williams did not have a bag with him when he went into the holding cell, according to the Bronx DA's Office.
Huggins and Dorsainvil were both convicted of assault and face up to 7 years in prison, while Donnelley and Anglin were both convicted of filing false incident reports and face up to 4 years in prison, the Bronx DA's Office said. All four are due to be sentenced on Dec. 7.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark has made reforming Rikers Island one of her top priorities since assuming office and vowed to continue prosecuting anyone who commits violence at the city's beleaguered jailhouse.
Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters, whose agency also looked into the case, said in a statement that the convicted DOC employees were just four of 33 that the DOI had arrested as part of its crackdown on Rikers Island.
"These verdicts send a strong message to the city’s Correction Officers: Engage in brutal behavior; lie to cover it up; and you will be punished," he said.
DOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte said in a statement that the agency has "zero tolerance" for any staffers who break the law and that Huggins, Dorsainvil, Donnelley and Anglin will all be fired.