Six security guards from the Rikers Island, New York prison complex have been fired for brutally beating an unarmed, handcuffed inmate. The victim, 27-year-old Robert Hinton, suffered a broken nose, broken back, and a horribly bruised face from the beating.
In April 2012, Hinton was escorted into a solitary confinement cell by five guards and their captain. Hinton was shackled and handcuffed during the escort. For reasons unknowns, the guards brutally beat Hinton for over 10 minutes after placing him in the cell. He was promptly placed on a gurney and rushed to the hospital after the beating.
This week, Judge Tynia Richard issued a rare and severe punishment to the guards by ordering all of them fired. Richard wrote that the guards needlessly beat Hinton and crafted a false narrative in order to hide their actions.
“This case appears to combine some of the worst aspects of the use of force cases: a coordinated effort to enter an inmate's cell, serious physical injury, an attempted cover-up, and a lack of provocation by the inmate,” Richard writes in her ruling. “Individuals who themselves are out of control cannot be made the overlords of any group of inmates.”
Richard writes that the security guards and their captain colluded and constructed a false narrative about the beating. She ruled that eyewitness accounts and surveillance footage proved the guards’ story false.
Richard hopes the stern discipline will serve as a deterrent for guard abuse and collusion in the future.
“Hopefully, it will help break the vise grip that silence and collusion played in this incident,” she writes.
Beatings like the one administered to Hinton are common at Rikers. A recent federal review found a “deep seated” culture of violence at the facility. Of the 2,007 complaints filed against officials at the complex in the last four years, only 97 resulted in any sort of written report or punishment.