A group of five inmates beat up a Rikers Island correction officer Saturday, leaving the worker with a fractured spine, according to the correction officers’ union.
The officer, identified by a source as Jean Souffrant, 39, was punched by one inmate and then punched and kicked by the others after falling to the ground, video of the incident shows. The attack took place at about 6:30 p.m. in the facility’s George Motchan Detention Center, according to the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association.
Souffrant, who had been on the job for no more than two years, was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital in serious but stable condition.
Inmates Steven Espinal, Eric Morris, Samson Walston, Nazeem Francis and Devin Burns were involved in the assault, according to the union, which described the attack as premeditated. It was meant as retaliation after Souffrant had written up Espinal for an infraction, according to union spokesman Michael Skelly.
“We are arresting anyone involved in this ruthless attack and we are working with the Bronx District Attorney’s office to bring serious charges,” Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann said in a statement issued to NY1.
The Department of Correction and the Bronx district attorney's office did not respond to amNewYork's requests for comment.
Skelly blamed the de Blasio administration for not doing enough to protect correction officers. He said that several inmates involved in the attack were members of the Bloods gang and added that the union is requesting the Justice Department to step in to address gang violence in city jails.
“The union feels he’s turned his back on us and stripped every tool we have to keep our jail safe,” Skelly said. “We are calling on the U.S. Justice Department to immediately help us fight the gang problem in New York City jails. The mayor has proven to be either unwilling or unable to support us and keep officers safe or even other inmates safe.”