A group of New York City correction officers were sentenced Friday for the beating of an inmate at Rikers Island, in the culmination of a case that put a harsh spotlight on the troubled jail complex.
The case stems from a 2012 incident inside the notorious city jail. Inmate Jahmal Lightfoot said he was beaten during a weapons search. He said the supervisors ordered the other officers to "kick his teeth in" and repeatedly stomped on his head, while other officers held back his arms and legs.
Lightfoot was at Rikers for a suspected purse snatching. He was released in 2014.
Lightfoot was in court Friday for the sentencing. He did not comment on the outcome, but his attorney did.
"Let the message go out to corrections officers all over this country that it you viciously assault an inmate, you will become an inmate yourself," lawyer Sanford Rubenstein said.
Former assistant head of security for the city's Department of Corrections Eliseo Perez Jr. was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison. Former DOC Capt. Gerald Vaughn received a 5 1/2-year sentence.
Both supervisors were facing up to 15 years in prison.
Four other officers -- Tobias Parker, Jose Parra, David Rodriguez and Alfred Rivera -- received 4 1/2-year sentences each.
Two other correction officers, Harmon Frierson and Dwayne Maynard, were both sentenced to 500 hours of community service. They were convicted of less serious misdemeanor charges, including falsifying papers.
Parra's attorney spoke to the media outside the courthouse.
"I do not believe the evidence submitted rose to a level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt," attorney Renee Hill said.
The group was convicted in June. The prosecution contends that after the incident, the group fabricated evidence to try to cover it up. The case shed light on abuses inside Rikers: it's violent culture among inmates and renewed calls for it to be shut down.
"Until the mentality of corrections officers is changed and they do not believe they can do this with impunity, we will not see an end to this violence," Rubenstein said.
Defense lawyers have said they will appeal. Lightfoot has filed a civil lawsuit against the city.