A former Rikers Island inmate is about to see a huge payout from the city of New York after being brutally beaten by a group of corrections officers at the facility.
Six years ago, Jahmal Lightfoot was left with a broken nose and two fractured eye sockets after being attacked by the gang of officers, which included a chief and a captain, New York Daily News reports.
In the years since the incident, Lightfoot has been in pursuit of justice for the pain he endured.
“When I see any police officer or a person in a uniform in the street, I get nervous,” said 33-year-old Lightfoot, who just settled a civil lawsuit last month for a whopping $3.9 million.
Back in 2012, Lightfoot was awaiting sentencing for a robbery conviction when the attack was ordered by Officer Eliseo Perez Jr. to serve as a lesson to other inmates after a string of jail stabbings had occurred.
WARNING: Image below contains graphic imagery that may be disturbing to some readers.
After a three-month trial in 2016, Perez Jr., former Capt. Gerald Vaughn, Officers David Rodriguez, Tobias Parker, Jose Parra, and Alfred Rivera were all convicted in Bronx Supreme Court for the assault and for fabricating evidence that resulted in a false contraband charge against Lightfoot.
Vaughn reportedly told the officers during the attack that he wanted to see Lightfoot’s “teeth on the floor.”
Now, the tables have turned, and all of the officers involved in the beating are serving prison time.
“I want all the officers — correction and police — to know they cannot beat on people and think you can get away with it, it’s not right ... I could have lost my own life,” Lightfoot said.
He added: “I just want people to know there’s going to be consequences for officers doing these things to people, and I hope this has an impact.”
Scott Rynecki, one of the attorneys who represented Lightfoot in his civil suit, said the outcome of the case sends a message to officers about accountability and consequences.
“This case sends a clear message that correction officers that take matters into their own hands will not be tolerated and will be held accountable both in a criminal courtroom and in a civil courtroom,” he said.
Violence at Rikers Island didn’t begin or end with Lightfoot. The facility has had a longstanding history of abuse and misconduct, prompting officials to announce a 10-year plan to shut the jail’s doors once and for all.
However, as Lightfoot’s attorney Sanford Rubenstein aptly pointed out, “what must be addressed as well by the Correction Department is [that] the culture of violence that has existed at Rikers will not simply be transferred to other jail facilities in the city.”
America's prison system, in general, is troubled, and inmates are being mistreated all over the country. Lightfoot's case simply brings the ongoing issue to the forefront and serves as more evidence that prison reform is long overdue.