Lawyers for the Riker’s Island prison guards accused of brutally beating an inmate in 2012, maintain that the guards were fearful for their lives, according to a report in the New York Times.
In closing arguments, the defense portrayed Jahmal Lightfoot as a violent criminal who had to be restrained after repeated orders to drop a weapon were ignored. On Monday, the defense rested without calling additional witnesses or hearing testimony of the nine current and former officers.
“Lightfoot is lying. He has changed his story numerous times,” said Raymond Aab, defense lawyer Eliseo Perez Jr. From the beginning, lawyers have stated that the officers were only performing their duties and violated rules no rules or laws.
Lawyers sought to discredit Lightfoot by showing videotaped footage of the incident and inconsistencies in his sworn testimony.
Prosecutors insist that Lightfoot was unarmed when the attack took place and the weapon was planted. They went on to say that members of an elite correction squad, led by Perez and Gerald Vaughn, ordered the beating because the inmate portrayed himself as tough.
Lightfoot sustained serious injuries to both eyes and still suffers headaches and other medical issues, according to hs testimony. He was sentenced to Rikers Island after being convicted of a purse snatching in 2010. He has since been released from prison.
Critics maintain that this is a textbook case of the problems seen inside of Rikers Island. “Violence and corruption is the norm at this institution,” said Bronx DA Darcel D. Clark. “Crimes committed by guards is our number one priority at this point.”
While Perez and Vaughn both retired in 2013 and 2014 respectively, the other seven officers were suspended. They were ultimately reinstated and placed on jobs that required no inmate contact.
In an unrelated protest outside the courthouse, gatherers demanded the shutdown of Rikers Island.