Wrongfully fired Rikers Island correction officer wins legal fight to regain her job, collect back pay
by: Ellen Moynahan
While most folks on Rikers Island are eager to get out, Benita Sims fought her way back in.
The fired correction officer reached a June 19 settlement where the city agreed to reinstate her job, plus kick in more than $40,000 in back pay, after a legal battle over her dismissal last year, according to her attorneys.
Sims, 40, was canned barely two years after suffering an assortment of injuries when targeted by a pair of teenage inmates inside the notorious facility. She even received three positive evaluations from her supervisors in the months after the painful June 20, 2016, assault.
“I was just (badge) number 6462,” she told the Daily News about her firing. “They did not care about Benita Sims. They didn’t care about the officer who had got hurt by an inmate and who had stitches.”
Sims was working as support staff in 2016 at the Robert N. Devoren Complex, where juvenile offenders were housed. She had just escorted three boys, each shackled and fitted with thick mitts because of behavioral issues, to a classroom. The problems began when a teen in the adjoining room started screaming at the kids under Sims’ watch.
At that point, one of the boys in the classroom with Sims went after her — “he’s pushing, trying to hit me, I put my arm up to try and block him,” she recalled. “On the other side of me there was a boy sitting down, and at the time it hadn’t appeared that he had done anything. But when they rolled the videotapes back he’s the reason why I fell. I had the boy over me this way, and he actually snatched the chair.”
Sims injured her thumb, shoulder and foot when she landed hard on the floor. Subsequent MRIs in July and September showed ligament tears in all three locations.