In a disturbing incident captured on body-worn cameras, New York City correction officers have been caught on tape bragging about violently assaulting a detainee in a mental observation unit at Rikers Island. The incident, which occurred in April 2023 at the Anna M. Kross Center, sheds light on the alarming behavior of the officers.
During the incident, one of the officers can be heard using derogatory language towards the detainee, referring to them in offensive terms. The same officer takes pride in his involvement in beating up the detainee and uses explicit language to emphasize the severity of the assault.
Another unsettling statement from the officer reveals a disturbing willingness to use violence again in the future. This officer, who was later suspended, also expressed a desire for the detainee to provoke him physically, showing an alarming lack of empathy.
Federal Monitor Report
The revelations emerged as part of a comprehensive 53-page report issued by the federal monitoring team. This team was appointed in response to a class action lawsuit concerning excessive use of force and violence by correctional staff.
In the report, the monitoring team highlights the distressing frequency of confrontational behavior and excessive use of force among staff.
Culture of Impunity
The report underscores the deeply concerning culture within the Department of Correction (DOC), pointing out that the incident was captured on body-worn cameras—devices known to all parties involved.
This disturbing visibility speaks to a sense of impunity that correction officers seem to expect. The report also raises concerns about the institutional culture that facilitates such behavior, describing it as corrosive and damaging.
Response and Reflection
Sergio De La Pava, the legal director of New York County Defenders, emphasized the gravity of the situation. He noted that the incident’s documentation through body-worn cameras underscores the officers’ perception of immunity and highlights the concerning institutional environment that allows such behavior to thrive.
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