The increasingly violent environment at Rikers Island is evidenced by a brutal attack of a corrections officer by six men believed to be members of the Bloods. On Saturday evening, 39-year-old Jean Roston Souffrant was punched and beaten severely which left him with bleeding on his brain, a fractured spine, and other injuries. The assault was said to be orchestrated by 18-year-old Steven Espinal who Souffrant had written up the day prior.
The attack was caught on prison surveillance video which showed Espinal striking the initial blow on Souffrant. The other five men jumped in and assaulted him. According to Elias Husamudeen, the president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association (COBA), New York City Mayor DeBlasio’s decision to end punitive segregation for inmates under the age of 22 is the reason why Souffrant was attacked.
“The mayor knew when he eliminated punitive segregation that he actually declared war on New York City correction officers,” Husamudeen said. “Those officers did their damn job. We just wish that the mayor of this city would do his damn job.”
VIDEO: Correction Officer source shares video of attack on CO by gang of inmates at Rikers Island last night.
— Ken Buffa (@KenBuffa) February 11, 2018
On Monday, four of the six men were arraigned on charges of gang assault and harassment among other charges. Espinal had his bail set at $500,000. Devin Burns, Nazeem Francis, and Samson Walston, who are also believed to be gang members, each had bail set at $300,000. All of these young men are under the age of 2o and have pleaded not guilty. But Department of Corrections Commissioner Cynthia Brann said that all of them will be held accountable.
“What happened to our brother last night at the hands of a violent group of cowardly inmates was sickening,” Brann said in a statement. “They’ll be held accountable for this crime, but right now our thoughts and concerns are with our hospitalized officer and his family. They need us now more than ever and we will be here for them.”
— Lisa Evers (@LisaEvers) February 11, 2018
Sadly, the family had pleaded with Souffrant to find other work. It would seem that their pleas were foreshadowing.
“I always told him you have to look for something else,” Souffrant’s mother Rena Victor told ABC 7 News. “I don’t like that job for you.”
Guy Souffrant tells me his family is trying to wrap their minds around what happened to his cousin Jean. A gang of 6 inmates brutally attacked the 39 year old officer at Rikers. Jean has a fractured C2 vertebrae. More at 6 @ABC7NY pic.twitter.com/Kcot62wUF1
— Kemberly Richardson (@kemrichardson7) February 11, 2018