Latest News 2012 December Beating Death of Rikers Island Inmate Results in 850K Wrongful Death Settlement

Beating Death of Rikers Island Inmate Results in 850K Wrongful Death Settlement

The family of an inmate that was beaten to death at Rikers Island in 2004, while he was escorted by a corrections officer and viewed by another guard, has received an $850,000 settlement, as reported by the New York Times.

According to the family's attorney, T.A., 21 at the time of his death, was the victim of two assaults – the first was by a member of the Bloods gang and other inmates, and during the second he was both kicked and stomped on by fellow inmates while he was with a corrections officer.

This is the fourth time this year that the city of New York has agreed to settle a claim in regards to violence in its jails.

T.A. was killed while being interned at the George Motchen Detention Center.

A.D., the Bloods gang member, has since been convicted. According to Robert T. Johnson, the Bronx district attorney, "…the first incident A.D. and two other inmates struck, punched and kicked (T.A.) to the floor after correction officers expressed concern that (T.A.) was becoming a 'disciplinary problem in the unit'."

It was in an effort to move T.A. to another housing area – that would have provided him more protection – that the second assault occurred.

The Bronx prosecutors said that during the move T.A. attempted to punch an inmate and that behavior was what caused, "(A.D.) and several others to retaliate" by sitting on A.D.'s chest while they "punched his face and head numerous times before smashing the victim's head into the floor repeatedly."

The family's attorney, Susan M. Karten, does not believe that T.A. tried to punch anyone or provoke "the attack." She contends that he was "preyed upon by other inmates."

Y.A., T.A.'s sister, said that her brother had difficulty with his speech and had a stutter – which prompted others to target him.

Karten stated that the "institutionalized culture" festering in jails allows a guard to "basically empower the inmates to take action to enforce the discipline." Of New York's correctional officials in general Karten said, "I think there's no question that they've been on notice for years."

In response to the settlement a spokeswoman for the city's Law Department said, "The city's decision to settle the (A.D.) case is not an admission of wrongdoing. It is a common practice among all defendants, both public and private, to settle cases rather than risk an unpredictable jury verdict."

In three other suits settled by the city this year, in regards to prison beatings, the city paid $2 million for a 2008 fatal assault lawsuit, $850,000 for a 2010 beating and $1.5 million for another 2010 fatal beating of a mentally disturbed inmate.

In all three cases the city did not admit to any fault.

A further statement by the Law Department spokeswoman, regarding all of the lawsuits, reads, "…The underlying incidents in these four cases occurred at different times and across different facilities. The timing of these settlements was coincidental."

Sometimes an entity will face more than one allegation of wrongful death. If your case is one of several, or stands alone, contact a personal injury lawyer today for help.