Rikers Island Jail is New York City’s primary incarceration facility, with notoriously rough conditions and even rougher inmates.
Now, with exclusive new video recently obtained by The New Yorker, some of one teenager’s Rikers Island experience has been revealed, one scene featuring the teen, Kalief Browder, being slammed to the ground by a guard for no apparent reason, and in another the teen beaten mercilessly by a crowd of Rikers Island gang thugs, with guards having a very difficult time stopping the relentless attack.
The new frightening videos are made worse with the understanding that Kalief Browder was indefinitely stuck in Rikers Island Jail for three years, awaiting a trial that never seemed to arrive. In a story right out of the Twilight Zone, Browder’s perpetual Rikers Island stay was based on an allegation that the teen had stolen a backpack.
This alleged crime took place in 2010, when Browder was sixteen and a sophomore in high School. Despite consistently maintaining that he was innocent, Browder was tossed into the notoriously violent and miserable Rikers Island jail. And while the proverbial key may not have been thrown away, it seems to have been stashed in the way back of some far off and seldom used Rikers Island sock drawer.
Then in May, 2013, the case against Browder was inexplicably dropped, his three brutal years at Rikers Island apparently just unfortunate water under the bridge.
At least until now.
With the New Yorker‘s obtaining of the Rikers Island surveillance footage, and the revelation that Kalief Browder didn’t just lose three prime years of his life, but also suffered heinous abuse during that time, a new negative light has refocused on Rikers Island, their guards, and the violent conditions in the jail.
The 2013 Rikers Island video below gives a taste of what Browder experienced.
Browder was interviewed by ABC News last July, and said the reason he was held so long at Rikers Island was because his mom couldn’t afford the $3,500 bail required to get him out, a situation that also apparently kept delaying Browder’s trial.
“Only thing on my mind was that I gotta go home, I didn’t do this,” Browder told ABC. “Now I’m in jail around these grown men and they’re, you know, they’re fighting each other. I don’t know. It was like hell on Earth.”
Browder also described other beatings and stompings by the Rikers Island guards not yet revealed on video, but sure to be part of a pending lawsuit by Browder.
“They cuffed me to the back, and they were just beating on me while I was in the cell,” he said.
ABC News caught up with Paul Prestia, Browder’s lawyer, who confirmed a pending lawsuit, but wouldn’t give any further details.
[Images, Rikers Island Surveillance video via The New Yorker, and YouTube]