Rikers Island detainee smashes DOC bus into several cars in attempted escape
The detainee blamed in the crash, a homicide suspect, got into the bus’s driver seat after a CO left the bus unattended outside the courthouse, the DOC said
By Graham Rayman
Los Angeles Times
NEW YORK — A Rikers Island detainee tried to escape by jumping into the driver seat of a Correction Department bus — which he put into reverse, smashing several cars outside Brooklyn Supreme Court, authorities said.
Injuries to the detainees aboard the bus — five women and four men — were still being assessed after the Tuesday morning smashup, the Daily News was told. No injuries were reported to the two correction officers aboard the bus, one a seven-year veteran and the other an 11-year-veteran.
The incident led to delays in several trials, said a defense lawyer for one of the detainees aboard the bus.
The detainee blamed in the crash, homicide suspect Tiequan Ward, 38, got into the bus’s driver seat about 9:45 a.m. after the seven-year veteran correction officer left the bus unattended outside the courthouse, says an internal Correction Department report compiled about two hours after the incident. It was unclear if the 11-year-veteran correction officer was still on the bus at the time.
Ward allegedly put the bus in reverse and smashed into a grey 2021 Honda Accord parked nearby, the records show. Video obtained by The News shows the Honda’s hood crushed. The impact damaged the car’s hood, windshield, front grill and right side mirror, the records show.
The officer who left the bus unattended has been suspended while an investigation continues, a Correction Department spokesman said.
Ward was being held in a high-security unit in Rose M. Singer Center, the woman’s jail on Rikers Island, a section of which was converted to male housing in 2023. The higher-security wing for has been troubled by slashings and other breakdowns, the federal monitor tracking violence and staff uses of force in the jails found.
Ward is currently in the midst of a second trial for the 2010 murder of Steven Oliver in Brooklyn. He was arrested for the killing in 2013 and convicted, but in 2019, a state appellate panel set aside the conviction.
The appeals judges concluded Ward was deprived of a right to a fair trial and also reversed the conviction because of trial judge Vincent Guidice’s “intemperate” remarks. Guidice called Ward “a real scourge on society” who “should be excised from the body politic,” the panel found.
He was rearrested in October 2019 and prosecutors in Brooklyn opted to retry him. He was remanded to Rikers Island, where he has remained for more than four years.
Among the trials delayed by the escape attempt was that of Rahmel Chapman, who faces charges for a 2021 murder during a robbery, suffered neck and back injuries in the crash, said Chapman’s lawyer, Adam Uris.
“We are in the middle of jury selection and we had to release the jury panel,” Uris said early Wednesday. “(Chapman) doesn’t know the extent of the injuries because he has not been given any (medical) scans. The defendants had to be taken back to Rikers for medical attention. They should’ve been taken to hospitals instead.”
Chapman was also hurt in a previous Correction Department bus crash on Nov. 28, the Daily News previously reported.
That crash took place around 8:15 p.m. at Astoria Blvd. North and Grand Central Parkway just across from Correction Department headquarters in the Bulova Building.
A Correction Department spokeswoman said the bus in that crash stopped short after it was cut off by another car. A correction officer was overheard saying he didn’t have to report the incident “because there were no cameras,” The News previously reported.
But Judge Eugene Guarino immediately ordered Chapman to receive medical attention. A second detainee hurt in the incident was ordered to be medically by treated by a second judge.
“You might hear a few of them complain about me because they got banged around the cages,” the bus driver allegedly said, The News previously reported.
Other detainees on the bus, Gladys Jeffers, accused of assault, and Talasia Tyson, accused of petit larceny, pleaded guilty Tuesday and were released, records show.
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