On December 13, 2016, a New York City Correction Officer was assaulted at the Otis Bantum Correction Center on Rikers Island by a detainee of the New York City Department of Correction awaiting trial on drug charges. The officer suffered significant physical injuries in the assault including facial bruises and cuts, sprains to his left wrist and left ankle and chronic back pain. He missed work for four months as a result of the assault followed by two months of medically restricted duty. He suffered psychological trauma and continued to suffer pain to his ankle, wrist and back for several months after the incident forcing his resignation during June, 2017. The detainee was convicted and sentenced on October 24, 2018 to a term of five years’ incarceration and five years’ post release supervision for his attack on the officer. This conviction, however, provided no direct compensation for the officer.
On February 10, 2018, another New York City Correction Officer was assaulted at the George Motchan Detention Center, also on Rikers Island, by five detainees. The detainees were members of the Bloods street gang. The assault was planned in advance in retaliation for the officer’s prior write-ups of their ring-leader who was being detained on attempted murder charges. The officer suffered a fractured neck and cranial bleeding in the attack. The ring-leader was eventually convicted of assault and sentenced to jail but that conviction, again, provided no direct compensation to the officer.
During 2018, both the first assailant and the ring-leader in the second assault were transferred to Albany County. Both sued Albany County and New York City during June, 2019 claiming the transfers constituted a variety of civil rights violations. New York City and Albany County settled this lawsuit agreeing to pay these violent criminals hundreds of thousands of dollars. Neither New York City nor Albany County gave any thought to the Correction Officer victims of these criminals and the settlement agreement did not mention them at all.
When Koehler & Isaacs LLP learned that these criminals were in line to receive such large sums of money, it sued them on the officers’ behalf for assault. In the meantime, Koehler & Isaacs LLP worked closely with the New York State Office of Victims Services to secure compensation for the officers. Under New York’s “Son of Sam” law, criminals are not permitted to profit off their criminal acts. Thus, where criminals are to receive financial awards, the Office of Victims Services can, on the victims’ behalf, obtain an injunction preventing the release of money until the time the victim’s suit against the assailant is settled. Using this process, Koehler & Isaacs has secured compensation for these officer of forty and eighty thousand dollars respectively, money directly reducing the settlement amounts reached between the assailants and New York City and Albany County with payments coming directly from those municipalities.
Koehler and Isaacs LLP is proud to have stood up for these officers and ensure that inmate assailants pay for assaulting Correction Officers.
Koehler & Isaacs attorneys Steven Isaacs and Howard Wien were counsel in these matters.