Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Conviction Of Rikers Island Correction Officer In Connection With Cover-Up Of Inmate Assault
Joon H. Kim, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that RODINY CALYPSO, a New York City Correction Officer, was convicted yesterday of filing a false report in connection with the assault of a handcuffed inmate at Rikers Island. The jury acquitted the defendant on one count of violating the inmate’s civil rights and one count of obstruction of justice. The jury returned the verdict after a one-week trial before the Honorable Valerie E. Caproni.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Prisoners at Rikers Island have the same constitutional rights we all enjoy, and corrections officers do not have the right to abuse inmates in their custody and care. Rodiny Calypso’s lies about his use of force undermined the investigation into his brutal beating of a handcuffed, defenseless inmate. We will continue to aggressively protect the rights of prisoners and the integrity of investigations into uses of force to ensure that justice reaches everywhere, including isolated corners of Rikers Island.”
According to the Complaint, Indictment, and evidence presented at trial:
Rikers Island is a jail complex, located in the Bronx, New York, maintained by the New York City Department of Correction. At the time of his assault, the inmate (“Inmate-1”) was a pretrial detainee in the Otis Bantum Correctional Center (“OBCC”), a facility that houses, among other inmates, inmates in need of maximum security. Inmate-1 was housed in 5 North, a dormitory area within the OBCC in which inmates were generally kept in solitary confinement in individual cells for 23 hours per day. The shower facilities within 5 North were individual stalls, to be occupied by one inmate at a time, and to which inmates were brought handcuffed, then uncuffed through a port in the shower stall door, and then handcuffed again through the port before being brought out of the stalls by correction officers.
The Assault and Cover-Up
Shortly before noon on February 27, 2014, CALYPSO relieved another correction officer at 5 North while Inmate-1 was in the shower. Inmate-1 and CALYPSO had an extended and heated verbal exchange, during which CALYPSO picked up some personal items Inmate-1 had dropped outside the door through the port. At one point, CALYPSO stepped away from the door and spoke to a fellow correction officer one level down within the dorm area. That person left the dorm area and returned with another officer (“Officer-1”).
CALYPSO rear-cuffed Inmate-1 for removal, and then opened the door to the shower stall. Within seconds, CALYPSO punched Inmate-1 several times in the face. He followed Inmate-1 into the shower area, where he put Inmate-1 into a headlock and punched him several more times in the head. CALYPSO began to lose his footing at this point, and clung to Inmate-1’s side. Officer-1 then arrived outside the stall. As Officer-1 restrained Inmate-1, CALYPSO regained his footing and elbowed Inmate-1 repeatedly – approximately five times – in the head. As a result of the assault, Inmate-1 suffered lacerations to his face and the back of his head. The entire assault was captured on surveillance video and witnessed by multiple inmates whose cells were positioned across from the shower area.
The New York City Department of Correction issues directives governing the circumstances under which the use of force against inmates is appropriate. Under these directives, when a restrained inmate is still dangerous to himself and others, force is to be used as a last resort. The directives also dictate that any use of force must be reported – on a “Use of Force” report that is filled out truthfully and promptly.
A full day after the assault, in violation of the directives, CALYPSO filled out a “Use of Force” report on which he was supposed to report truthfully the circumstances of that assault. In this report, CALYPSO attempted to justify his conduct by lying about how he and Inmate-1 had acted. He mischaracterized and misstated portions of the assault, omitting the close-fisted punches he delivered to Inmate-1 while holding him in a headlock and claiming that he had hit Inmate-1 only in the “upper torso” area.
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RODINY CALYPSO, 38, of Springfield Gardens, New York, was convicted of one count of filing a false form. CALYPSO faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge. CALYPSO is scheduled to be sentenced on November 30, 2017.
Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Kim also thanked the New York City Department of Investigation, the New York City Department of Correction, Investigative Division, and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in the investigation, which remains ongoing.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights and Public Corruption Units. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Martin S. Bell and Tara M. La Morte are in charge of the prosecution.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Southern District of New York