New Charges in Prison-Brutality Crackdown

     MANHATTAN (CN) — On his only day at New York’s Downstate Correctional Facility, black inmate Kevin Moore almost did not survive, and prosecutors say that one of the guards who left the prisoner at death’s door ripped out clumps of his dreadlocks as a “trophy.”
      Showcasing Moore’s ordeal on Wednesday, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara presented the inmate — who was hospitalized for 17 days after the attack — as the latest example of brutality in New York prisons. His office has pursued cases against staff at multiple prisons and also indicted the chief of a New York corrections officer’s union.
     The latest charges against three correctional officers — Sgt. Kathy Scott, George Santiago, Jr. and Carson Morris — falls a day after a Rikers guard pleaded guilty to covering up a fatal beating of an inmate with advanced kidney disease.
     Another two officers, Donald Cosman and Andrew Lowery, pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the government.
     “As I have said before, inmates may be walled off from the public, but they are not walled off from the Constitution,” Bharara told reporters, echoing his remarks from a June 10, 2015 press conference, the day the Rikers case was unsealed.
     He said the accused guards’ conduct showed a sharp contrast with the law enforcement ideals shown in the case of alleged New York and New Jersey bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami, whose federal charges were unsealed on Tuesday evening.
     “Sometimes, law enforcement does us so proud, as we saw this week. Sometimes, sadly, law enforcement does not, and that brings me to today’s case,” Bharara said. “Excessive use of force in prisons, we believe, has reached crisis proportions. We have taken aggressive action time and time again on Rikers Island, but the prison problem…does not end there.”
     Ironically, the 54-year-old Moore had been slated for transfer to Rikers on his single day at Downstate on Nov. 12, 2013, but prosecutors say that a lengthy hospital stint kept him from his final destination
     Bharara said that the “brutal beating and brazen cover-up” began after Moore and another, unidentified inmate had angered the guards by protesting their placement in the Forensic Diagnostic Unit, a ward for inmates with mental health issues.
     Calling himself “a monster,” Moore told the guards that he worried his confinement in that unit could change his status in the state correctional system, according to the complaint.
     Prosecutors claim that this is the comment that sparked an onslaught for an “extended period of time with fists, boots and batons, causing many life-threatening injuries, including five fractured ribs, a collapsed lung, and facial fractures in multiple places.”
     According to the complaint, Santiago kicked Moore in the face before taunting the bloodied prisoner with the question: “Who’s the monster now?”
     Prosecutors say that the defenseless Moore pleaded with Scott, the highest-ranking officer there, to end the blows, crying out, “Why Sarge, why? Make it stop.”
     “When Moore’s pants fell down during the beating, two correction officers punched and kicked Moore in his exposed groin as he lay on the floor,” the 15-page complaint states.
     The guards left Moore in a pool of his own blood, and the missing locks of hair lay in the same room next to him, prosecutors say.
     Santiago allegedly picked those up to hang from his motorcycle.
     “Instead of being immediately sent to the hospital for treatment, Moore was locked into solitary confinement to suffer in pain overnight,” the complaint states.
     According to the complaint, Santiago burnished his cover-up story by whacking another officer who had been at the scene on the back with a baton to make it appear that Moore had attacked him.
     Scott then photographed that officer’s back, and all three of the charged officers and other uncharged officers wrote a false use-of-force report and supporting memoranda, prosecutors say.
      The guards face the possibility of 45 years in prison if convicted of four counts of civil-rights violations and falsifying records.

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