Union: N.Y. inmate slashes CO in face, bites another in 'unprovoked' attacks
The union criticized the state's "weakened policies" for placing COs at greater risk
By Cara Chapman
DANNEMORA, N.Y. — Two corrections officers were injured by an inmate last Friday after he allegedly cut one across the face with a bent metal nail and bit another searching him for contraband, the CO union says.
Following the incident, New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association leadership criticized the state's "weakened policies," while the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said the safety of staff and incarcerated people is the top priority.
UNION: SUDDEN ATTACK
At about 4:50 p.m. Friday, the 27-year-old inmate was coming back from the recreation yard with other inmates and, while walking down the mess hall stairs, suddenly attacked the CO monitoring them, NYSCOPBA said in a press release.
The inmate slashed the officer across the face with an unknown object, believed to be a finishing nail bent at an angle that staff found on the ground nearby, the union continued.
The CO grabbed the inmate in a body hold and forced him to the ground, where the inmate continued to fight, according to the release.
"Additional staff arrived and OC Spray (pepper spray) was administered to the inmate but had no effect," NYSCOPBA said. "The officers were able to get the inmate's arms behind his back while on the ground and apply handcuffs. Once in handcuffs, the inmate became compliant."
Staff then brought the inmate to the infirmary for decontamination.
During a pat frisk of the inmate, a CO noticed a hole in the individual's pants pocket, the union said.
"The inmate immediately grabbed his pocket and began to struggle with the officer," NYSCOPBA said. "He was grabbed in a body hold and forced to the ground. On the ground, he continued to fight with officers and bit one officer in the hand and attempted to kick other staff."
One officer noticed a yellow object which the inmate refused to drop as the struggle continued, the union said.
Staff were eventually able to handcuff the inmate and recovered a sharpened yellow toothbrush he had dropped on the floor, according to NYSOPBA.
ONE OFFICER STILL OUT
The inmate, who is serving an 18-year sentence for a first-degree manslaughter conviction out of Kings County, was transferred to Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone.
NYSCOPBA said the two COs sustained injuries and required treatment at University of Vermont Health Network, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh. They were treated and released.
"The officer who was slashed across the face sustained an inch and a quarter laceration to his face," the union said.
"The officer who was bit in his hand sustained swelling to his right hand and a small laceration to his finger."
According to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, one of the officers had not returned to work as of Wednesday while the other one had.
NYSCOPBA Northern Region Vice President John Roberts decried what he characterized as weakened policies in the state's prisons.
"Both violent attacks on these two officers are exactly the reason why a watered down disciplinary system will continue to have no deterrence on unprovoked attacks," he said in a statement.
Roberts said an inmate stabbed a CO in the arm at Elmira Correctional Facility last week.
"Our elected officials, who have continually advocated for these weakened policies, should look these officers in the eyes so they fully understand the violence they are subjected to every day. These continued attacks are simply unacceptable in our eyes!"
DOCCS said in a statement that the safety and well-being of staff and incarcerated individuals is the top priority.
"The department has zero tolerance for violence within our facilities and anyone engaged in misconduct will be disciplined," the agency said.
"The department's Office of Special Investigations is assisting the New York State Police with investigating this serious incident. If warranted, incidents such as this will be referred for outside prosecution."
(c)2021 the Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.)