2017-08-09 / Front Page

Guards Suspended In Failed Rikers Escape

By Liz Goff
Two corrections officers who failed to see an inmate escape from a Rikers Island recreation yard have been suspended without pay, a Department of Corrections (DOC) spokesperson confirmed.

DOC officials locked down Rikers Island for more than eight hours on the evening of July 26, after an inmate made an attempt to break free from the island jail.
Inmate Nauan Hill, 24, was in a recreation area at the Anna M. Kross Center at about 7:30 p.m. on July 26 when he hopped a 12-fot fence topped with razor wire, DOC officials said. Staffers realized Hill was missing when he failed to return to his cell, a police source said.
Six inmates went to the recreation yard while there was still some daylight, but only five came back to their cells, DOC officials said. The five other inmates distracted corrections officers while Hill climbed over the fence. The guards failed to count the number of inmates they were escorting back to their cells, a police source said.
The unidentified guards will be suspended for at least 30 days before there can be heard by a panel of DOC officials and union representatives, a corrections spokesperson said.
Officials at the Corrections Officers Benevolent Association (COBA) said the union would “vigorously defend” the guards and said it’s been “too long to remember” when an inmate escaped custody of city corrections workers.
Corrections officers found blood on the ground and on the fence at the recreation area during an initial search, DOC officials said. “It appeared that Hill had injured himself.”
The NYPD and Port Authority Police assisted corrections officers in a nearly eight-hour search for Hill. Cops searched for Hill in the waters surrounding Rikers Island and LaGuardia Airport, in the East River and through Elmjack and Astoria Heights - residential neighborhoods that sit at the foot of the Rikers Island Bridge.
Sources said Hill ran about 100 feet to the shuttered James A. Thomas Center, where two corrections officers spotted him at about 2:45 a.m. on July 27, stirring in a grassy area. The officers tackled Hill to the ground just as backup arrived to take him into custody, a police source said.
Hill was hospitalized with cuts and abrasions from his climb over the fence, a police source said. He was dirty, bloody and cut up, but he is expected to fully recover.
Hill did four years in state prison on a burglary conviction and was arrested again on December 12, on an unrelated burglary charge, a police source said. He was held without bail and was sent to Rikers to await trial or disposition of the case.
A spokesperson for the Bronx District Attorney’s office said they plan to file additional charges against Hill for his foiled bid for freedom.

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