Witnesses Say Force Reports Changed in Prison Assault

By Luis Gonzalez and Reza Malek

Rikers Island investigators testified Thursday that major changes were made to use of force reports after an inmate’s assault, apparently bolstering the prosecution’s contention of a cover-up in the case against 10 prison guards.

The attack, which left inmate Jahmal Lightfoot with several injuries including two fractured eye sockets and a broken nose, started when assistant chief for security officer, Eliseo Perez, locked eyes with Lightfoot during a weapon search after two inmates were slashed that day.

“This guy thinks he’s tough,” Perez was quoted saying to some of his subordinates, according to prosecutors. Lightfoot was then led into a search pen where five of the accused correctional officers were waiting for him.

After any type of physical altercation corrections officers must submit use of force reports, which have ‘A’ and ‘B’ level classifications for use of force, ‘A’ being the most severe.

The five alleged attacking officers submitted their reports late, indicating a ‘B’ classification for use of force, the testimony showed. Over 20 hours later the classification was upped to an‘A’ after they realized the extent of the injuries sustained by Lightfoot, according to the prosecution.

A witness, investigator Lawrence Bond, pointed to the reports that showed the officers changing the use of force classification from ‘B’ to ‘A.’

Bond mentioned that the claims of an “inmate slashing” were not on the original ‘B’ class reports but were added nearly 24 hours later in the ‘A’ report by the five officers.

He also claimed that Lightfoot had no injuries to his hands, lending to the doubts surrounding officers’ claims that Lightfoot had been armed.

The officers contend that it was Lightfoot who had initiated the confrontation. One of the officers, Alfred Rivera, charged that Lightfoot has slashed him with a makeshift razor, composed of a “sharp piece of metal wrapped with tape,” according to the indictment.

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