Rikers Island inmates charged with beating guard

- Four Rikers Island inmates accused of brutally attacking a New York City correction officer pleaded not guilty in court Monday.

The attack took place on Saturday evening in the George Motchan Detention Center in the sprawling jail complex. The officer suffered a fractured spine and swelling on his brain. Officer Jean Souffrant, 39, was in a hospital ICU.

A surveillance camera inside the housing area captured video of the attack. The footage shows an inmate go up to the officer, who had earlier written him up for an infraction, and deliver a knockout punch to his head. Moments later, other inmates are seen rushing in and stomping on the officer while he is on the ground.

Other officers used pepper spray to subdue the attackers. Four suspects were arraigned Sunday on gang assault charges.

The president of the union that represents officers said the mayor needs to take action at the troubled jail.

"So, now you have inmates who are under the age of 21 in jail for attempted murder, and burglary and robbery and assault and they assault a New York City correction officer," said Elias Husamudeen, the president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association.

The inmate who threw the punch has been identified as Steven Espinal. He and several other inmates who are allegedly affiliated with the Bloods gang participated in the beating. They are all between the ages of 18-20.

"The reason things are so bad is we have a mayor who does not have respect for law and order," Husamudeen said.

A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that the mayor spoke to the wounded officer.

"We'll get to the bottom of this heinous attack and hold those involved accountable," the spokesperson said. "COs [correction officers] have one of the hardest jobs in city government—often thankless and always dangerous."

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