SOUTH BRONX — A correction officer was indicted for repeatedly punching an inmate on suicide watch after she threw a smock at him, and his colleague has been charged with helping him cover up the attack, the Bronx District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.
Inmate Shonda Brown was changing into a smock worn for suicide watch at Rikers Island on March 23, 2014 when she apparently became agitated, the Bronx DA's Office said.
Brown took off her smock, put it in a bag and threw it at 41-year-old correction officer Sean Smith, who then grabbed her by the hair and repeatedly punched her head while his coworker Velma Rogers, 55, looked on, officials said.
Brown later claimed that she had been assaulted, and the Department of Correction had Smith and Rogers file reports as part of its investigation, but neither report said anything about Smith hitting Brown, according to the Bronx DA's Office.
However, surveillance video shows Smith pummeling her, officials said.
“We trust correction officers to be the front line of security in the jails, and we will not tolerate any officer who uses excessive force or covers it up," Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said in a statement. "The crimes these officers are accused of only add to the culture of brutality and corruption that we are trying to transform.”
Smith and Rogers have been indicted for falsifying business records, official misconduct and offering a false instrument for filing, and Smith has been charged with assault and harassment as well. They are due back in court on Jan. 31, according to the Bronx DA's Office.
The officers could face between one and a third to four years in prison if convicted of the top charges against them.
"These are the 35th and 36th arrests of DOC staff since DOI started its broad investigation into violence and corruption at Rikers," Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters said in a statement, "and we will continue until the problem is brought under control.”
Both officers were suspended from duty on Tuesday, according to the DOC.