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$30,000 Settlement for Juvenile Assaulted by Riker’s Island Guard Gang

The New York City Department of Corrections (NYDOC) paid $30,001 to settle a lawsuit brought by a juvenile beaten by guard authorized violence. Several guards have been indicted for running the Robert N. Davoren Complex (RNDC) on Riker’s Island “like an organized crime family” under a system guards called “the Program,” said the Bronx District Attorney (DA).
This “horror story” involved guards giving, “favored prisoners free reign to beat, rob and extort whomever they please.” The DA said the RNDC was an “incubator for violent criminal activity sanctioned by adults in positions of authority.” The guard’s motive for this activity was to make their jobs easier by having certain prisoners maintain order amongst their own.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Matthew Perez, who was arrested on September 30, 2007, for assault in the second degree. The complaint begins the statement of facts by reciting the history of guard sanctioned prisoner fights at RNDC. An investigation by the New York City Department of Investigations and the Inspector General for NYDOC resulted in indictments against six guards, a captain, and an assistant warden at RNDC.
One prisoner, Christopher Robinson, died at RNDC on October 17, 2008, after he was “brutally beaten because of his refusal to go along with a violent extortion enterprise against adolescent inmates which was jointly operated by the indicted correction officers and their teenage accomplices,” alleged the DA. Robinson was denied medical treatment immediately following the beating, and he bled in holding cells for hours prior to his death. [See: PLN, Feb. 2010, p.28; Jan. 2009, p.20].
The investigation uncovered nine guards’ sanctioned beatings against nine separate prisoners. Guards would generally “designate the date, time, location, and manner of the beatdown.” The practice of guards conspiring to make false reports was known as “write with us.”
The complaint details Perez’s confinement from his arrest until his October 22, 2007, release. On the bus to RNDC, another prisoner struck Perez and demanded his PIN for his commissary. Perez told that prisoner he was not “with it.” Later, guard Richard Hill walked through the facility pointing to prisoners, stating either “he’s with it” or “he’s not with it.” One unknown guard would say things like “get with the program” and “get down or lay down.”
Perez was later beaten by the Team in the shower bathroom after refusing to give up his PIN. That same night, a search team that included women stripped the juveniles naked and heckled some of them about their genital size. Captain Kelly ordered the prisoners into the shower/bathroom area, where he hit each in the head with a commissary bin lid. Those who had attitudes, including Perez, were cordoned off. Kelly punched Perez in the ribs with great force and belittled him. His identification was confiscated as punishment for requesting medical care afterwards.
On at least two occasions, Perez was assaulted for giving into another prisoner’s demands to relinquish his shoes. At a court appearance, the judge ordered Perez into protective custody due to the assaults. Finally, guards did not release Perez until three days after an immediate release order following his charges being dismissed.
The matter was settled and judgment entered on February 9, 2010. See: Perez v. City of New York, U.S.D.C. (S.D. NY), Case No. 1:08-cv-09669-PGG.

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Related legal case

Perez v. City of New York