SOUTH BRONX — A trio of officers will spend time behind bars after being sentenced for brutally beating an inmate and later claiming they were trying to stop him from committing suicide. A fourth correction officer involved only received community service.
Rikers Island officers Michael Dorsainvil, Christopher Huggins, Mark Anglin and Ronald Donnelley had all been convicted of covering up the beating of inmate Carl Williams, who had started cursing at a group of officers on March 15, 2013 after they threw away a bag of food that they took from him, prosecutors said.
Dorsainvil, Huggins and Anglin then put Williams in a holding cell and held him down while Huggins kneed him in the head and Donnelley stood outside watching, according to trial testimony.
The officers later said that Williams was threatening to hang himself with a string he had pulled from his bag, but a Department of Correction video showed that Williams had no bag with him when going into the holding cell, according to the Bronx District Attorney's Office.
"But for the video surveillance, which they don't have access to, this would have been a he said she said situation," said Assistant District Attorney Pishoy Yacoub.
Dorsainvil, who was convicted of assault, was sentenced to two years behind bars, while Huggins, who was also convicted of assault, was sentenced to one year.
Anglin and Donnelley were both convicted of filing false incident reports. Anglin was sentenced to 150 hours of community service and a four-month term of intermittent imprisonment — he will serve his time on weekends from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday — while Donnelley was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.
All four officers spoke briefly at their sentencing. Huggins said he was "mortified" by his actions, while Anglin said he recognized that he had failed to be an upstanding member of society. Donnelly and Dorsainvil both apologized for their involvement in the beating and cover up.
"I just want to apologize for Mr. Williams' injuries, and please have mercy on me," Dorsainvil said.
Yacoub stressed that Dorsainvil was at the center of the case and asked that he be sentenced to three years behind bars, and although Judge Michael Gross handed down a slightly lighter sentence, he agreed that Dorsainvil played a pivotal role, saying that Anglin, Huggins and Donnelley would not be in court were it not for his actions.
"You abused your position of trust. You violated your oath of office," Gross said. "You, on that day, disgraced your badge."
The DOC fired all four officers in late October, and Commissioner Joseph Ponte said in a statement that the agency has "zero tolerance for any illegal behavior on the part of staff."
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark has made reforming Rikers Island one of her top priorities, and multiple groups of correction officers have been sentenced for crimes since she took office last January. Three officers received probation on Jan. 5 for covering up the beating of an inmate, and six were sentenced to prison time in September for beating inmate Jahmal Lightfoot.
“I hope these sentences continue to send the message that excessive force by those sworn to maintain order on Rikers Island will not be tolerated, nor will covering up violence or corruption," Clark said in a statement following Thursday's sentencing. "These correction officers will now pay the price for their roles in this crime.”