RIKERS ISLAND — An officer slashed in the arm when an inmate assaulted him during morning meal service in Rikers Island Sunday, about two weeks after another guard was attacked.
The officer was collecting meal trays when the inmate left his cell without permission and began assaulting him, according to the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association.
A second officer came over and attempted to stop the attack, but the inmate continued to throw punches at both guards. The inmate slashed one of them in the right arm with a scalpel blade wrapped in black electrical tape before he was restrained.
The officer had punched the inmate in self defense, the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association said.
The weapon was recovered on the cell’s floor.
This comes about two weeks after another officer was slashed in a face by a prisoner who apparently lured him to the cell. The prisoner reached through the tray slot and slashed him on the left side of his face. The incident was caught on camera and the guard received five stitches. The weapon, however, was not recovered at the scene, a source at the time said.
A former Rikers Island inmate also exclusively told PIX11 News that he smuggled a cellphone into the jail and was able to stream on Facebook Live from behind bars in what he said was his cell. The video has been viewed more than 7,000 times on Facebook.
The Department of Correction says it's working to start using body scanners during exams. A spokesperson released this statement to PIX11 News regarding the case:
"Safety for staff and inmates is Commissioner Ponte’s top priority. This individual was arrested and is facing serious charges. This video is under investigation. The 43% jump in contraband finds at DOC this year demonstrates that Commissioner Ponte’s comprehensive reforms of our entrance procedures are working.
"As we have previously done, we are continuing to seek a change to state law in order to authorize the use of body scanners, which we already own. The scanners can detect the scalpels and other small blades that evade detection by other machines. With more than 50 state-of-the-art x-ray machines, metal detectors and other detection devices, we look forward to further success in stemming the flow of dangerous items into our jails."
Department of Correction Commissioner Joe Ponte released a statement to PIX11 Monday afternoon about the incident:
“I am outraged by this serious assault. Attacks against the hardworking men and women who serve in our department will not be tolerated. Safety is our top priority and we will continue to take every step to ensure the safety and security of our staff and inmates. As part of our comprehensive reforms, we have already tightened search procedures to keep out weapons and other contraband, bolstered security camera coverage and added emergency response teams to each facility to get to officers faster if they are in danger. As we have previously done, we will continue to seek a change to state law in order to authorize the use of body scanners, which we already own. The scanners can detect the type of weapon used by this inmate.”
Last week, Ponte and Mayor de Blasio released a report stating the total number of inmate assaults on officers is down by 20 percent — the first time since 2011. Stabbing and slashings are also reportedly down from 87 to 78 incidents.