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Rikers officers charged with covering up attack on detainee

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Three city Department of Correction officers have been indicted by the Bronx district attorney Tuesday in an alleged scheme to cover up one officer’s alleged assault of an inmate on Rikers Island.

Around 6:15 a.m. on Oct. 14, 2021, correction officer Carl Williams, 31, approached an inmate “standing with his hands to his sides” and struck the man in the face before “taking a fighting stance,” the Bronx district attorney’s office said in a statement.

The incident inside the Otis Bantum Correctional Center, a housing unit for men, was captured on surveillance footage and witnessed by at least two other officers — Roy Dewar, 58, and Jatan Das, 64, whom prosecutors allege helped Williams submit reports to the correction department “claiming the inmate was the aggressor and that use of force was justified.”

All three were charged with first-degree falsifying business records, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, second-degree falsifying business records, second-degree offering a false instrument for filing, and official misconduct.

Williams is also charged with third-degree assault, according to the release.

“We must hold Correction Officers to a high standard,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said in a statement. Her office has jurisdiction over crimes committed on Rikers Island. “These defendants violated the trust put in them by allegedly filing false instruments about an officer’s assault on an inmate. Just as the alleged violence will not be tolerated, neither will the coverup, especially in this turbulent time in Rikers Island.”

In a statement provided to NY1 Wednesday morning, DOC Commissioner Louis Molina said the indictment was “in no way a reflection of the hard-working women and men who represent New York’s Boldest.”

“Clearly immediate action should have been taken under the previous leadership when this incident occurred — timely and meaningful action is required for sustainable reform to take hold,” Molina said. “The conduct alleged here is unacceptable and a violation of the officers’ oath and duty to this city and our agency.”

The DOC said it has suspended all three officers without pay pending the outcomes of their court cases. The officers face discipline or termination if they are found guilty, the department added.

Attorneys for the defendants did not immediately return requests for comment.

In its own statement, the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association said: “The fact that the Bronx DA has chosen to indict these three officers over allegations that were made over two years ago tells us that this case is being driven more by the politics of our times than by the facts. Furthermore, these types of allegations have historically been handled within the Department of Correction’s disciplinary system rather than being turned into a criminal case and media circus.”

The inmate allegedly assaulted by Williams was identified as Arkady Shkolnick in court documents. City records show no person by that name still in custody.

Contact information for Shkolnick was not immediately available.

Williams joined the department in 2015 and was still listed as an active employee as of June 30, 2022, according to New York City payroll data. Das worked as an NYPD school safety agent from 2012 until 2018 before switching to the Department of Correction, where he was listed as an active employee as of June 30, 2022, the same payroll data shows.

Dewar was a 15-year veteran of the department at the time of the alleged assault and subsequent cover-up, having joined the department in 2006 according to the city. He remained an active employee as of at least June 30, 2022, city data shows.

The correction officers are set to return to court on April 19.

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