Even though almost six years have passed since Jahmal Lightfoot was left on the floor of Rikers Island with a broken nose and two fractured eye sockets, the pain continues to linger.
“When I see any police officer or a person in a uniform in the street, I get nervous,” said Lightfoot, who quietly settled a civil lawsuit last month for $3.9 million dollars.
Lightfoot, 33, was awaiting sentencing for a robbery conviction in July 2012 when Eliseo Perez Jr. ordered the attack as a lesson to other inmates following several jail stabbings.
Perez Jr., former Capt. Gerald Vaughn, Officers David Rodriguez, Tobias Parker, Jose Parra and Alfred Rivera were all convicted in Bronx Supreme Court after a three-month trial in 2016 for the assault and fabricating evidence that pinned Lightfoot with a contraband charge.
According to trial testimony, Vaughn told his officers he wanted to see Lightfoot’s “teeth on the floor.”
“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.
“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.”
All of the officers are currently serving upstate prison time.
“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,” said Scott Rynecki, one of the attorneys who represented Lightfoot in the civil suit.
A spokesman from the Department of Correction referred questions regarding the settlement to the city’s law department.
“Settling this case was in the best interest of the city,” said Nick Paolucci, a spokesman with the law department.
Since Lightfoot’s case was brought to light, officials have announced a 10-year plan to shut to doors of the troubled facility.
Lightfoot’s attorney Sanford Rubenstein is hopeful about the jail’s closings, but added “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.”
On – 03 Apr, 2018 By Christina Carrega