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Rikers Island Guard Accidentally Records Himself Planting Shiv in Prisoner’s Cell

Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark and New York City Department of Investigation (DOI) Commissioner Jocelyn E. Strauber announced on October 27, 2023, that a guard at the city’s Rikers Island jail complex had been indicted for evidence tampering, falsifying business records and official misconduct after placing “a sharp object in an inmate’s cell and then reporting it as recovered contraband.”

Dionisio Rosario, 33, a seven-year veteran of the city Department of Correction (DOC), captured the incident on his “own body-worn camera, which he unintentionally activated,” DOI added. In a post to its Facebook page the same day, DOI said Rosario “was involved in a use of force incident” on April 4, 2023, when he was “captured on video surveillance, including his own body worn camera, placing a 4.5-inch piece of sharpened plexiglass inside the cell of the inmate with whom he had the use of force.”

“He then allegedly pretended to search the cell for the weapon before claiming to have discovered it by the sink area, where he initially placed it,” the post added.

“There have been too many brutal slashings of inmates and staff inside Rikers Island,” Clark agreed, adding that “for a [DOC] Officer to allegedly plant a 4-inch, pointed shard of plexiglass in an inmate’s cell and then pretend he found it is unconscionable and absurd.”

If only behavior like Rosario’s were an exception rather than the rule for DOC guards. A case in point arrived less than a month later, on November 21, 2023, when former guard Krystle Burrell, 36, was handed a 29-month federal prison term for taking almost $10,000 in bribes to smuggle cellphones and drugs to Rikers Island detainee Terrae “Tomato Sauce” Hinds, with whom she was having a relationship. As PLN reported, Burrell was already awaiting sentencing when she again attempted to smuggle contraband to Hinds at the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Metropolitan Detention Center. Fellow guard Katrina Patterson took more than $34,000 in bribes to smuggle drugs to another detainee, James Albert, for which she was sentenced to a year and a day in prison on April 25, 2023. [See: PLN, July 2023, p.24.] Another guard convicted in the scheme with her, Patrick Legerme, got a one-year probated sentence on August 25, 2023. See: United States v. Albert, USDC (E.D.N.Y.), Case No. 1:20-cr-00064.

Escalating his criticism of jail officials, federal monitor Steven Martin told the federal court for the Southern District of New York on October 5, 2023, that DOC is “incapable of effectively directing and managing the multilayered and multifaceted reform effort” which the Court appointed him to oversee. The following month, on November 9, 2023—just after DOC Commissioner Louis Molina handed his resignation to Mayor Eric Adams (D)—Martin told the Court that “[a]fter eight years and four (soon to be five) commissioners, the city and the department have failed to gain traction in the effort.” Less than a month later, on November 30, 2023, Martin reported that “[i]nterference, obfuscation, and deflection have become normalized” in his team’s dealings with DOC, “and yet another imminent leadership transition is expected to further impact an already unstable, erratic, and chaotic environment.” See: Nunez v. City of New York, USDC (S.D.N.Y.), Case No. 1:11-cv-05845.

Yet the Court continues to stop short of a federal takeover of the jail system, even as Rikers Island recorded its first death of the new year on January 4, 2023: Chima Williams, 43, collapsed and died while playing basketball. It was the 29th death reported at the jail in the two years since Adams assumed office at the beginning of 2022.  


Additional source: New York Daily News

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