Second Rikers guard pleads not guilty in NYC prison beating case

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 18, 2015 2:20 PM

By Katie Reilly

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A second New York City correction officer pleaded not guilty on

Friday to charges of orchestrating and then covering up the assault of a Rikers Island inmate to settle a personal dispute sparked by a verbal altercation, officials said.

The officer, Herman Jiminian, is accused of helping his coworker, Nakia Gales, recruit four inmates to assault another prisoner to teach him a lesson, according to a release from the Bronx County district attorney.

Gales, who has been a city correction officer since 2002, was arraigned on Thursday and pleaded not guilty. Jiminian, 41, has been a city correction officer since 2004.

Both officers were suspended on Thursday. If convicted, they face up to seven years in prison. Their attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.

Gales, 39, allegedly lured inmate Gilbert Bacallao into a vestibule to pick up a package and instructed him to shut the door behind him, locking him inside, according to an indictment by the City of New York Department of Investigation.

From a control room overlooking the vestibule, Gales then allegedly opened another door to allow the four inmates to enter and assault him, the indictment said.

Bacallao sustained bruising and other injuries. The four inmates were each charged with second-degree and third-degree assault.

The incident took place in January 2014 on the Vernon C. Bain Center, a five-story jail barge that houses medium and maximum-security inmates in the Bronx. The barge is used to reduce overcrowding in the buildings located on Rikers Island.

Gales and Jiminian later attempted to conceal their involvement and submitted conflicting reports after the incident, according to the indictment.

"This is a stunning example of correction officers

conspiring with the very inmates they guard to use violence in settling a personal score, according to the

charges," Mark Peters, commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation, said in a statement.

"There is no tolerance for this type of thuggish behavior," he said.

Rikers Island has come under scrutiny in recent years due to claims of inhumane treatment and excessive use of force against inmates.

Two of the four accused inmates have been identified by the Department of Correction as members of the Bloods gang, which Gales is also accused of belonging to, according to the Bronx district attorney.

(Editing by Alan Crosby)