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Investigation into assault inside NYC jails

November 7, 2011 8:31:28 PM PST
Steven Davis, 40, in jail on a robbery charge at the Manhattan Detention Complex, says he was the victim of a gang assault in early October when he was viciously jumped by three other inmates.

"All of this was swollen, my eyes were swollen shut," he says. Three weeks later, the pain persists. "The cheek is still sore, the eyes, the nose,"

The attack on Davis, who makes his living as an R'n'B singer, and often speaks against gang violence, reportedly began when 19-year-old Reginald Wiggins, a known Blood gang member, allegedly barged into his cell.

"He grabs me and two other inmates run into the cell and they get me down on the bed and they just start to pound me," Davis explains.

He says he was pinned to the bed, unable to use his hands to free himself.

"I don't know where the officer was. He wasn't nowhere in my area."

Davis says Wiggins and the two other attackers then ran out of his cell, but assaulted him a second time as he tried to go for help.

"They were stomping me and kicking me, as I'm getting up off the floor, he cracks me right down the center of my face," he remembers. "One of the inmates cracked me down the center of my face with a cane."

But even though this second attack was happening outside of his cell, no one called an alarm.

Wiggins and two other inmates, Princesam Bailey, and Jonathan Batticks, are now charged with the assault on Davis.

"They dropped the ball every step of the way here" Andrew Stoll, Davis' attorney says about the prison officers. "There should have been some assistance. They shouldn't have been able to beat him up and reform a second time."

The Correction Department, which declined to make the Commissioner available for an interview, claims there was a "fight" which staff broke up although Davis was not charged.

What DOC does acknowledge is that Wiggins should have been in punitive lockdown at the time of the incident, not in general population, because of his violent track record.

Wiggins is accused of murdering a 15-year-old teenager, Maurice McIver, on the Upper West Side, in May of 2008. Just a few months later, 18-year-old Christopher Robinson ended up stomped to death in the adolescent jail on Rikers Island for failing to give in to gang-related extortion demands.

Although Wiggins was not specifically charged with manslaughter in Robinson's death, prosecutors say he was part of the vicious gang. One correction source describes him as a "disciplinary nightmare."

"He's going to hurt people. That's what he does. That's where he thinks he gets his power from," Stoll explains. "That's where most of the Bloods think they get their power from."

The continuing jail violence has many of those affected, like Christopher Robinson's mother Charnel, feeling disappointed and feeling resigned.

"It's still happening to other people and I would have hoped that losing his life stood for something," she says.

All three inmates accused in the attack on Davis are now in punitive segregation for now. But the feeling remains that more needs to be done to stop the violence.

"It happens in jail because it's allowed to happen in jail," Stoll says.

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