New York prisons officers convicted in inmate’s beating, cover-up

NEW YORK A former New York correction captain was convicted on Friday of beating an inmate and attempting to cover up the incident at the Rikers Island jail complex and two subordinate officers were convicted of lesser charges tied to the crime, prosecutors said.

The 12-week trial was the latest in a string of prosecutions targeting Rikers employees over the past four years, as officials seek to stem violence and corruption that has for decades plagued New York City’s main jail complex.

Department of Correction Captain Gerald Vaughn was convicted at the Bronx Supreme Court of first-degree attempted gang assault, second-degree assault, and other charges related to the 2012 beating of inmate Jahmal Lightfoot, District Attorney Darcel Clark said in a statement. Vaughn faces a maximum 15-year prison sentence on the top count.

Correction officers Harmon Frierson and Dwayne Maynard were convicted of official misconduct, a misdemeanor that carries up to a year in jail, Clark said.

“These convictions… close a chapter in Rikers Island’s sad, brutal history,” Clark said. “They send a clear message that a uniform and a badge do not absolve anyone from committing a crime, and that even an inmate deserves to be treated like a human being.”

All three men are scheduled to be sentenced on September 6. Reuters could not immediately reach their attorneys for comment.

Prosecutors in the city’s Bronx borough accused a total of 10 guards in the assault that left Lightfoot with fractured eye sockets and a broken nose. Five additional correction officials were convicted on Tuesday in the incident.

Rikers Island is one of the country’s largest jail complexes, housing approximately 10,000 inmates.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has instituted a comprehensive plan to reduce violence at the jail by both inmates and officers, including better training, more cameras and updated use-of-force policies.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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