Instigator-In-Chief, Ex-assistant Chief Eliseo Perez Jr., received longest sentence of 6.5 years in a state prison
Each of the six officers convicted of violent felonies stepped up to learn their fate, in a crowded courtroom.
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Assistant Guards Chief Eliseo Perez Jr., a former assistant head of security at Rikers is accused of ordering a team of officers to beat Lightfoot to a pulp in July 2012.
Prosecutors say Perez ordered the brutal attack after Lightfoot locked eyes with him during a weapons search.
Lightfoot, an ex-member of the Bloods gang, was at the city jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to stealing a woman’s pocketbook in 2010.
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Perez had put out a defense of his actions in covering the deeds of his men when his attorney Robert Feldman, posted on social media that Lightfoot was beaten because he had a shank on him.
“Lightfoot had a shiv and when he was being strip searched he dropped it and as he was trying to retrieve it 4 big ESU guys tackled him to the ground and punched. Totally justified.” Feldman had posted this arguement before he [Feldman] was shut down by the trial judge.
Jahmal Lightfoot after the beating and during the trial
Lightfoot and his lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, filed a lawsuit against the city, thereafter.
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As at the time the lawsuit was filed Perez and Vaughn had retired.
The other seven officers on trial, Tobias Parker, Jeffery Richard, Alfred Rivera, David Rodriguez, Dwayne Maynard, Harmon Frierson and Jose Parra were suspended in 2013 but all reinstated with full pay and benefits, right before trial was to start.
In a dramatic twist, all nine correction officers charged with allegedly carrying out and covering up the brutal beating of inmate Lightfoot declined to testify during the trial.
On the stand, Jahmal Lightfoot, testifying in the trial against his jail house tormentors, said after the stomping he was was doubly punished with over 100 days, nearly 4 months, alone in a cell.
Lead beatdown Officer, Alfred Rivera, claimed he was slashed by Lightfoot
lead defendant, Former Rikers Island Chief Eliseo Perez Jr., right, exits the Bronx Hall of Justice
Former Capt. Gerald Vaugh arriving in court
The jail authorities sided with the officers’ claims that he charged at them with a razor.
“So you were placed for 110 days in lockdown for something you didn’t do?” asked Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Piergrossi in Bronx Supreme Court.
“Yes,” responded Lightfoot.
The longest sentence, 6.5 years in state prison, was handed to the instigator of the chain of events, ex-assistant Chief Eliseo Perez Jr., the once assistant head of security at the city Correction Department. He was convicted of ordering the 2012 attack on inmate Jahmal Lightfoot.
Former Capt. Gerald Vaughn, who wanted to see Lightfoot’s “teeth on the floor,” received a sentence of 5.5 years.
While the four other officers – David Rodriguez, Tobias Parker, Jose Parra and Alfred Rivera were convicted of carrying out the beating in a jail search pen, out of view of security cameras. Each was sentenced to 4.5 years in state prison.
Another two ex-officers charged in the beating, Harmon Frierson and Dwayne Maynard, were sentenced to 500 hours of community service on misdemeanor charges for their roles in covering up the assault.
Before handing down the sentences, a somber Bronx Judge Steven Barrett said the convicted officers had “succumbed to their worst instincts and to the casual violence that is too often prevalent among the prison population these men were entrusted to watch.”
“There are orders that cannot be followed,” he added.
Perez, the head of an anti-violence unit at Rikers, was charged with ordering officers to kick Lightfoot’s teeth in after singling him out during a weapons search to send a message to other inmates following a spree of jail stabbings.
Lightfoot, 31, testified that officers repeatedly stomped on his head while others held back his arms and legs.
A pensive former corrections assistant chief Eliseo Perez (right), at Bronx Supreme Court in June
“What was supposed to be left behind that search pen, behind that white sheet, because of Jahmal Lightfoot’s courage has come to light,” said Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Piergrossi.
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The thrust of the three-month trial was that the officers fabricated evidence to claim Lightfoot had a razor on him.
A ninth indicted officer, Jeffrey Richard, was acquitted and still serves as a correction officer. A 10th indictee, Capt. Michael Pollard who retired this summer, had a medical issue and is yet to face trial.
Lightfoot, who admitted in court that he had been part of the Bloods street gang, was at the city jail awaiting sentencing on a robbery plea, sat in the the jury box during sentencing and declined to speak to reporters.