Rikers Island correction officers beat inmate, lied in reports, Bronx DA says

Two correction officers at Rikers Island were arraigned on assault charges Thursday for beating an inmate in 2015 and then lying about it in their reports, according to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said correction officer Akeem Cardoza, 29, of Manhattan, had gotten into an argument with inmate Tyreek Shuford inside the George Motchan Detention Facility at Rikers Island on Oct. 13, 2015. But the situation took a violent turn when Cardoza demanded that Shuford follow him to a hallway that connects two sides of the dormitory and then beat him, they said.

Another correction officer, 55-year-old Phanes Nervil, of Mount Vernon, then joined in on the beating, punching and kicking the already injured Shuford, according to the district attorney’s office.

“These defendants betrayed their duty and their fellow correction officers by contributing to jailhouse violence and feeding the false belief that a badge and uniform allow for brutalization of inmates,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said in an emailed statement Thursday.

After the assault, Cardoza and Nervil forged reports to make it look like Shuford had attacked the correction officers first, according to prosecutors. However, those reports were proven false by surveillance video that recorded the incident, they said.

Shuford suffered cuts to his face and ear and bruising on his back, the district attorney’s office said.

Cardoza and Nervil were indicted on charges of assault, offering a false instrument for filing, falsifying business records and official misconduct, according to prosecutors. They were released on their own recognizance following their arraignment and are due back in court on Nov. 28.

If convicted of the top charge, both men face up to three years in prison.

“The vast majority of our hardworking officers carry out their duties with care, integrity, and the highest levels of professionalism. Any illegal behavior by a staff member is unacceptable,” Peter Thorne, spokesman for the city Department of Correction, said in an emailed statement.

The charges come as Mayor Bill de Blasio looks to close Rikers Island within the next 10 years. In June, the mayor released an outline on how he would achieve that goal and replace the correctional complex with a network of smaller jails within each borough, though he left it to the City Council to decide specifically where those jails should be located.