Officials with the city’s Department of Investigation called the tactical search “unprecedented.” Investigators began scouring 75 locations within the George Motchan Detention Center on Rikers Island Monday afternoon. Officials said the raid were part of a continuing investigation into “violence and other illegal conduct on Rikers Island.”
More than a dozen city correction officers have already been refereed for criminal prosecution, according to a joint statement from the Department of Investigations and Department of Corrections commissioners. The identities of the officers have not been released. The Associated Press, citing law enforcement officials, reported the allegations include drug trafficking, inmate assaults, evidence tampering and falsification of records. Officials said Monday they expect to make additional arrests and file more charges.
Authorities said the searchers included correction officers entering and leaving the facility. Investigators also searched inmates and their cells. The operation, the city’s investigation department said, was sparked by information investigators developed during their ongoing investigation.
The George Motchan Detention Center, one of 11 jails on Rikers Island, has recently come under scrutiny after four correction officers were indicted in March for allegedly assaulting an inmate and then allegedly trying to cover up the beating. The four officers – Michael Dorsainvill, Christopher Huggins, Mark Anglin, and Ronald Donnelly – have all pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges. Prosecutors charge three of the officers – Dorsainvill, Huggins and Anglin – pinned down an inmate to the floor of his cell while they pummeled him. Donelly, officials said, is alleged to have witnessed the beating.
Officials have said they suspect the alleged beating was sparked when the inmate began cursing at the officers when they threw a bag of food he was carrying in the trash. The officers later filed reports saying the inmate was injured while fighting with them as they tried to save him from committing suicide, the district attorney’s office said. Prosecutors began their investigation after “discrepancies” were found in the use of force reports and witness statements collected after the incident.
Also in March, four inmates at the George Motchan Detention Center tried to escape from solitary confinement by smashing toilets through the concrete walls of their cells, according to a report in the New York Daily News. The prisoners allegedly crawled through the holes and confronted correction officers with the cinderblocks. The newspaper reported that a supervising correction officer was able to convince the men to return to their cells.