THE BRONX — A Rikers Island guard was arrested Monday and charged with beating an inmate and then trying to cover it up, according to the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office.
Rodiny Calypso, 38, had just relieved another officer in the Otis Bantum Correctional Center on Feb. 27, 2014 when he got into a verbal argument with an inmate who was in a shower stall and the assaulted the man after handcuffing him and repeatedly punching him in the face, federal prosecutors said.
“Rodiny Calypso allegedly violated a Rikers Island inmate’s constitutional rights by viciously beating him — without physical provocation — while the inmate was restrained in handcuffs,” acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement.
“As we have said before, the protections of our Constitution extend to those in prisons, and this Office will remain vigilant about protecting the rights of all, including those confined within the walls of Rikers Island.”
The guard — who became a correction officer in 2004 and then served in the Iraq war, according to a New York Post report — is facing up to 30 years in federal prison after being charged with deprivation of rights under the law and filing a false form, federal prosecutors said.
The altercation began when the inmate was in the shower facility at Dorm 5 North, where inmates are generally kept in solitary confinement and shower individually in a stall.
Calypso and the inmate got into a verbal exchange, and then brought in a fellow CO one level down within the dorm area who left and returned with another officer, who was seen on video looking up at the shower area.
Calypso then handcuffed the inmate before entering the stall, placed him in a headlock and punched him in the face.
Calypso slipped and lost his footing and clung to the inmate’s side, prompting a backup officer to enter the shower stall and restrain the inmate while Calypso regained his footing and elbowed the inmate five times in his head, prosecutors said.
The inmate suffered lacerations to his face and back of his head.
The assault was captured on video and witnessed by several inmates whose cells are opposite the shower area, prosecutors added.
Calypso then filed a “Use of Force Report” in which he claimed the inmate had spit on him and attempted to spit on him again. He also said he had only hit the inmate in the “upper torso” area.
Calypso was expected to be arraigned in Manhattan Federal Court Monday evening.
There was no immediate information on his lawyer.
Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte said the agency has "zero tolerance" for any illegal behavior by staff and that any DOC worker found guilty of a felony will be automatically terminated.
"The vast majority of our officers carry out their duties with care and integrity, and adhere to the highest professionalism," Ponte said. "Everyone in our custody deserves to be treated in a just and humane manner. We are confident that our many reforms are yielding a quality staff in which all New Yorkers can take pride.”