Correction Officer Sentenced To 16 Months In Connection With Cover-Up Of Inmate Assault
Officer Rodiny Calypso Lied Repeatedly on a Use of Force Report After Beating a Handcuffed Inmate in a Shower Stall
Joon H. Kim, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that RODINY CALYPSO, a former New York City Correction Officer, was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 16 months in prison for filing a false “Use of Force” report in connection with his beating of a handcuffed inmate at Rikers Island. CALYPSO was found guilty of filing the false report on August 16, 2017, following a five-day jury trial at which he was also acquitted of one count of violating the civil rights of an inmate and one count of obstruction of justice. U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni imposed today’s sentence.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Today, Rodiny Calypso received the prison term that his cover-up deserved. A day after being caught on videotape beating a handcuffed man at Rikers Island, Rodiny Calypso undermined the ensuing investigation by repeatedly lying on a report. The integrity of investigations into Constitutional violations at New York’s jails and prisons is critically important, and lying to interfere with them can lead to a federal conviction, as well as time in prison.”
In sentencing CALYPSO, Judge Caproni said: “Make no mistake about it, this is a serious offense. Other correction officers should think long and hard about telling the truth on the Use of Force forms. It is important that they know that it’s not just that use of force that will get you in trouble, but lying to cover it up will, too.” Judge Caproni added that “the message has to be that you will pay dearly, not just with the loss of your job, but with the loss of your liberty” if a correction officer files a false report.
According to the Complaint, Indictment, other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and evidence presented at trial:
Rikers Island is a jail complex located in the Bronx, New York, maintained by the New York City Department of Correction. At the time of his assault, the inmate (“Inmate-1”) was a pretrial detainee in the Otis Bantum Correctional Center (“OBCC”), a facility that houses, among other inmates, inmates in need of maximum security. Inmate-1 was housed in 5 North, a dormitory area within the OBCC in which inmates were generally kept in solitary confinement in individual cells for 23 hours per day. The shower facilities within 5 North were individual stalls, to be occupied by one inmate at a time, and to which inmates were brought handcuffed, then uncuffed through a port in the shower stall door, and then handcuffed again through the port before being brought out of the stalls by correction officers.
The Assault and Cover-Up
Shortly before noon on February 27, 2014, CALYPSO relieved another correction officer at 5 North while Inmate-1 was in the shower. Inmate-1 and CALYPSO had an extended and heated verbal exchange, during which CALYPSO picked up some personal items Inmate-1 had dropped outside the door through the port. At one point, CALYPSO stepped away from the door and spoke to a fellow correction officer one level down within the dorm area. That person left the dorm area and returned with another officer (“Officer-1”), who looked up at the shower area.
CALYPSO rear-cuffed Inmate-1 for removal and briefly looked down in the direction of the other officer. CALYPSO then opened the door to the shower stall and, within seconds, sucker-punched Inmate-1 several times in the face. He followed Inmate-1 into the shower area, where he put Inmate-1 into a headlock and punched him several more times in the head. CALYPSO then began to lose his footing, and clung to Inmate-1’s side. Officer-1 arrived in the stall at this point. As Officer-1 restrained Inmate-1, CALYPSO regained his footing and elbowed Inmate-1 repeatedly – approximately five times – in the head. As a result of the assault, Inmate-1 suffered lacerations to his face and the back of his head. The entire assault was captured on surveillance video and witnessed by multiple inmates whose cells were positioned opposite the shower area.
The New York City Department of Correction issues directives governing the circumstances under which the use of force against inmates is appropriate. Under these directives, force is to be used as a last resort, when an inmate in restraints is still dangerous to himself and others. The directives also dictate how incidents in which force is used are to be reported – on a “Use of Force” report to be filled out truthfully and promptly.
A full day after the assault, in violation of the directives, CALYPSO filled out a “Use of Force Report” form on which he was supposed to report truthfully the circumstances of that assault. Over multiple pages and numerous answer fields within the report, CALYPSO attempted to justify his conduct by lying about whether and how Inmate-1 had acted aggressively toward him and whether his violent response was necessary. He also mischaracterized and misstated portions of the assault, omitting the punches he delivered while holding Inmate-1 in a headlock and claiming that he had hit CALYPSO only in the “upper torso” area.
CALYPSO was terminated from his job as a correction officer following his criminal conviction.
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Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the FBI. Mr. Kim also thanked the New York City Department of Investigation, the New York City Department of Correction, Investigative Division, and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in the investigation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights and Public Corruption Units. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Martin S. Bell and Tara M. La Morte are in charge of the prosecution.