Correction Officer Beat Female Prisoner on Suicide Watch

Prison Guard Found Guilty of Assaulting Inmate 

BRONX– A correction officer was found guilty of violently assaulting a female prisoner who was on suicide watch.                                        

Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark announced that a New York City Department of Correction Officer has been sentenced to five years probation for assaulting a female inmate on Rikers Island and filing false reports with the intent to cover it up.

Clark said, “Correction Officers are supposed to secure the jails, but instead the defendant punched an inmate in the mental health ward of the Rose M. Singer building on Rikers Island, and then tried to cover it up. Crimes committed by anyone in the jails will not be tolerated.”

District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Sean Smith, 43, a Correction Officer since 2001, was sentenced to five years probation by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Martin Marcus. Included in the probation sentence is the requirement that the defendant complete an anger management program, and 250 hours of community service at a psychiatric hospital or mental health ward, which will have to be approved by the judge. Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of one to three years. The defendant was found guilty after a bench trial of two counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the first degree, two counts of Official Misconduct and one count of third-degree Assault on December 19, 2018.

According to the investigation, on March 23, 2014, in the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island, inmate Shonda Brown was on suicide watch and had changed into the smock given to such inmates for their safety. The inmate was then handed a bag of protective blankets, which she then threw at Smith. He then grabbed Brown by the hair, pushed her into a wall, and punched her multiple times in the head. After throwing the inmate to the ground Smith continued to strike the inmate. When a fellow Correction Officer asked Smith whether they needed to file a report, Smith stated that the cameras were in the dark, and he did not file a Use of Force report during that shift.

When Brown made an allegation that she was assaulted, the Department of Correction investigated the incident and instructed Smith to file an allegation report as part of its investigation. Smith filed paperwork that did not mention the assault against the inmate, while surveillance camera footage showed Smith pummeling Brown.

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