Shocking surveillance video from the Rikers Island jail complex puts a case of blatant prison abuse in New York City on display. 53-year old Victor Woods is shown on the video laying in the arms of other inmates while they scream for help. Wood's is shaking uncontrollably, apparently having some sort of seizure but nobody comes to help even though there is a guard caught in the video camera's lens. The unnamed corrections officer simply watches the drama unfold, drinking coffee. Later, inmates told investigators that the guard said "I'm not touching him" when they asked for help.
Inmates say it was at least twenty minutes before anyone arrived to help. Woods became the seventh inmate to die while in custody at Riker Island in 2014. The unemployed tunnel worker had been arrested just a week before on a minor possession charge.
This type of incident is not new at Rikers Island. Investigations by various agencies have found hundreds instances of prison abuse in New York City's most notorious lockup. Since the 1980s there have been six class action lawsuits filed on behalf of current and former inmates detailing a pervasive culture of abuse and neglect, resulting in unnecessary injuries and deaths. Recent reports have included abuse against mentally ill inmates (including the horrific death of a Veteran who was essentially baked to death in his cell when the temperature skyrocketed for some unknown reason); officer-on-inmate violence and other tales of shocking neglect.
While no official cause of death had been determined at the time the Associated Press published the story, many wonder whether prompt medical attention would not have made a difference in Mr. Woods' case.
Just because an individual has been arrested doesn't mean their civil rights have been suspended. If you or a loved one has suffered at the hands of corrections officers while incarcerated at Rikers Island-or any of the NYPD jails or lockups-contact a New York City prison abuse attorney immediately to discuss your case confidentially. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your pain and suffering for the injuries you have sustained. Call the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel for a free consultation at (800) 734-9338 or (212) 385-1122 to learn your rights.