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Surveillance video shows US prison abuse against black teenager

25 April 2015 10:25


Recently-released video footage shows abuse of an innocent teenage prisoner in a New York City’s jail complex known as Rikers Island.

Sixteen-year-old Kalief Browder, a high-school sophomore, was wrongly arrested in the Bronx for allegedly stealing a backpack in May, 2010. Although he insisted he was innocent, he was imprisoned in Rikers Island, a four-hundred-acre jail complex.

He was in the prison for the next three years, while waiting for his trial, though his case was repeatedly delayed by the courts. Eventually, the court dismissed the charges against him in May, 2013.

During his incarceration, he was repeatedly abused by guards and other prisoners. The New Yorker obtained two surveillance-camera video clips showing some instances of the tough conditions he went through during these years.

He was in solitary confinement for about two years, including nine months. He was kept in Rikers’s Central Punitive Segregation Unit, known as the Bing.

One day a guard came to his cell to take him to the showers and as it can be seen from the footage Browder put his hands through a slot so that the guard can handcuff him. The guard, then, opened the door and led him down the tier before he threw Browder to the ground.

Browder, who recently saw the footage, said, “I just felt him tighten a grip around my arm,” the New Yorker reported.

“In my head, I was wondering why he tightened it so tight, like he never usually does, and that’s when he swung me and kept trying to slam me.”

Browder said that the guard told a captain, who arrived later, that he had sought to run, adding but “I was on the floor going crazy: ‘He’s lying! I didn’t do nothing!’”

He said he was again punished for allegedly trying to run with having to spend extra days in solitary confinement.

He said if he would have told the prison officials to “look at the camera, and they would’ve seen I didn’t do anything. After that happened, to be honest, I was scared to come out of my cell to get in the shower again, because I felt, if I come out of my cell and he slams me again, then I’m going to get more box days.”

According to a Department of Correction, Browder suffered a facial contusion, which may have been caused by either “alleged attack by staff” or “hitting his face into the shower wall” but the latter was rejected by Browder.

In another clip shot during October 2010, he was shown being beaten by a gang who ruled a housing unit. A gang leader spit him in the face and he decided to retaliate because otherwise, he said it would have “meant they could keep spitting in my face. I wasn’t going to have that.”

The clip shows that the gang members, one by one, punching and kicking the poor teenager while police barely tried to stop them from beating the man.

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