rikers island

rikers island

Two Rikers Island jail guards beat to death an ailing and restrained inmate, with one of them kicking the prisoner repeatedly in the head, telling him as he lay dying, “That’s what you get for f—ing with me,” federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Ex-Rikers officer Brian Coll and current guard Byron Taylor were arrested and charged with six counts including conspiracy, filing a false report and lying to a grand jury. Another ex-Rikers guard, Anthony Torres, has already pleaded guilty to the same charges, according to the Manhattan US Attorney’s office.

The city paid $2.75 million last year to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of Ronald Spear, 52, whose beating death came after he complained about not getting treatment for his kidney disease. Spear, in Rikers as he awaited trial on a burglary charge, was suffering from end-stage renal disease, required regular dialysis and wore glasses and a bracelet that indicated he was a “risk of fall.”

“Rikers inmates, although walled off from the rest of society, are not walled off from the protections of our Constitution,” said US Attorney Preet Bharara after announcing the arrests. “And no code of silence can keep them walled off or protect those correction officers who violate the inmates’ rights.”

He was attacked in the “North Infirmary Command,” which houses inmates who have serious medical needs or physical limitations.

Spear was asking to see a doctor before the attack and he and Coll yelled profanities at one another before Coll began punching him, the complaint states.

“Coll repeatedly kicked Spear in the head while Spear was already restrained and while he was lying face-down, prone on the prison floor [and] continued to kick Spear in the head even after another correction officer told Coll to stop and attempted to shield Spear’s head from further blows,” the complaint states.

“After Coll kicked Spear in the head multiple times, Coll bent down and picked up Spear’s head. Coll put his face inches away from Spear, and said, ‘Remember that I’m the one who did this to you.’”

Compounding the death was a coverup involving a concocted story that Spear had attacked Coll with the cane he used for mobility. The prison guards also lied about Coll’s actions, according to the complaint.

Coll was arraigned Wednesday, and was being held on $500,000 bail. Taylor was released but will be required to post a $200,000 bond.

Spear’s death was eventually ruled a homicide but the Bronx DA declined to prosecute, saying “it couldn’t prove criminal responsibility beyond a reasonable doubt” despite the fact that the medical examiner’s report said Spear sustained blunt-force trauma to the head, torso and arms.

A spokeswoman for Bronx DA Robert Johnson said prosecutors there took it as far as they could before handing the case off to federal authorities.

Spears’ father, John Daniels, 82, said all his son did was ask for help.

“I’m glad they were charged,” Daniels said. “I wish they were charged for murder. I hope they get to see what a jail looks like from the other side now.”