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Inmate Uses Hidden Razor to Slash Jail Officer at Court, Officials Say

By  Aidan Gardiner and Ben Fractenberg | September 6, 2017 12:19pm | Updated on September 6, 2017 5:33pm

 The officer suffered
The officer suffered "deep wounds" to his head and neck after an inmate slashed him with a razor in court, officials said.
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Correction Officers' Benevolent Association

MANHATTAN — A hulking inmate with a history of assaulting law enforcement officers slashed a correction officer across the head and neck with a hidden razor inside a holding pen at a Manhattan courthouse Tuesday afternoon, officials said.

James Casey, 20 — who stands a towering 6-foot-8 and weighs 305 pounds — attacked the officer in a holding area at Manhattan Criminal Court at 100 Centre St. about 5:40 p.m., leaving him with "deep wounds" on his head and neck, according to authorities and union officials.

Casey had stashed a 1.5-inch razor inside a pen cap, using it to slash the officer as he was outfitting the inmate with restraining mitts, a spokesman for the Correction Officer's Benevolent Association said.

The victim and another officer managed to subdue Casey, according to a Department of Correction spokesman.

"Last night, an inmate suddenly and viciously attacked one of our officers. This cowardly act is inexcusable and the perpetrator will face serious charges," said the spokesman, Peter Thorne.

The officer received seven stitches at Bellevue Hospital after the attack, union officials said.

Casey, who was being sentenced to five years in prison for three violent Manhattan robberies, was charged with felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon, officials said. He was held without bail after being arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court Wednesday afternoon. 

Casey has a long arrest history stretching back to when he was 15 years old, including assaulting two jail guards just last year, records show.

In that incident, on May 6, 2016, he punched a guard in the mouth and another in the left eye inside the George Motchan Detention Center on Rikers Island, prosecutors said. Both guards suffered pain and swelling and were treated at area hospitals, prosecutors said.

Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officer's Benevolent Association, visited the officer wounded Tuesday in the hospital that night, a spokesman said.

"He was with the officer when he got his seven stitches. [The officer] is obviously very shaken. You go to work one day, you don't expect to be cut across your head, cut across your neck," said COBA spokesman Michael Skelly.

Casey was arrested in December 2012 for attempted robbery, and then again in February 2013 for assault, police said.

He was also picked up in February 2016 for a robbing a man at gunpoint for his jacket and belt along with two other men in Morrisania the previous month, prosecutors said. 

Then, in April 2016, Casey and two other men beat and robbed three people in separate incidents on the Lower East Side, prosecutors said.

In those robberies, for which Casey was being sentenced Tuesday, he punched a woman to the ground, kicked a man in the head and body, and punched a third man in the face.

He's been arrested five other times, but police records for those incidents are sealed, a spokesman said.

David Delbaum, who represented Casey for the April 2016 robberies, didn't immediately provide further information about the Tuesday attack.

Department of Correction officials hope to change state law to get better weapons-detection systems, noting that contraband confiscations have increased dramatically under Mayor Bill De Blasio, Thorne said.

Correction personnel found 69 percent more contraband in the 2017 fiscal year than in the same period in 2014, he explained.

"Our Department continues to do everything it can to protect our hardworking officers from such attacks. This includes rooting out weapons contraband and continuing to work closely with the state legislature to pursue the change in state law required to authorize the use of ionizing scanners, which we own but may not use," Thorne said.

Casey is due back in court on Sept. 11. The lawyer representing him for Wednesday's incident did not immediately respond to a request for comment.