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$60,000 Settlement in New York Jail Captain’s Assault on Prisoner

The City of New York paid $60,000 to settle a prisoner’s civil rights action. The case was succinctly defined as an incident where New York Department of Corrections (NY DOC) Captain Reginald Patterson not only “gratuitously punched an inmate, but also … generated an elaborate ruse to cover it up.”

The case revolved around a May 13, 2007 incident at the Anna M. Kross Center (AMKC) on Riker’s Island. On that day, convicted prisoner David Alston, who was awaiting sentencing on a drug charge, had a visit with his wife, Shavon. Those were about the only facts not in dispute during a three-day hearing on a petition filed by NY DOC officials to termi-nate Patterson.

The administrative law judge considering the petition found that Patterson and AMKC guard Daniel Vallecillo were not credible witnesses. The judge held the Alstons were credible.
David Alston said that after an hour of visitation, his visit was terminated. As he was having a discussion with Vallecillo about being previously granted a time extension for the visit, Patterson walked up to Alston to ask what the “noise was.”

Alston replied that he was talking to the guard. Patterson told him to get out of the line of prisoners waiting to go through the metal detector. After everyone was gone, Patterson took off his windbreaker and smirked when Alston asked for his “boots before you beat me up.”
Patterson then hit Alston in his right eye, and Alston was thrown in an isolation room.

When Patterson and Vallecillo returned with a baton and mace, Alston informed them that his mother-in-law was a NY DOC guard. Once Patterson verified that fact, he apologized and allowed the Alstons an additional four to five hours of visitation.

After Alston refused Patterson’s offer to take him to medical and look out for him in exchange for remaining silent about the assault, Patterson and Vallecillo began to create documentation that stated Shavon had struck her husband during the visit. The judge noted that medical reports backed up Alston’s version of events, as did numerous consistent interviews by NY DOC officials when Alston reported the incident.

On October 1, 2009, the administrative law judge recommended that Patterson be terminated. See: Dep’t of Cor-rection v. Patterson, Index No. 2164/09. The NY DOC settled Alston’s federal lawsuit several months later, on Decem-ber 11, 2009. Alston was represented by Brooklyn attorney Brett H. Klein. See: Alston v. City of New York, U.S.D.C. (E.D. NY), Case No. 1:08-cv-03155-NGG-SMG.

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Related legal case

Alston v. City of New York