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Rikers brawl video leads to new bombshell allegations

Sarah Wallace has the story
October 31, 2013 2:56:48 PM PDT
A captain who took control of a wild melee on Rikers Island caught on tape is leveling bombshell allegations against the Department of Correction.

"It's been bothering me every day since the incident that it's not being properly addressed," he said.

He's a veteran officer taking a huge professional risk by speaking out about the incident and the video that aired exclusively on Eyewitness News. The whistle-blowing Captain claims the Department never reached out to him about that out of control brawl until that video was shown on TV 3 weeks after the incident.

SEE THE RAW VIDEO OF THE RIKERS BRAWL

Captain Eugenio Ramos says the Department's failure to deal with this incident in a Rikers jail put him over the edge, and that's why he is coming forward. He says every day officers and inmates are being put at risk because of improper training and inadequate staffing.

"I'm frustrated, I feel helpless," Ramos said.

Not the emotions you'd expect to hear from this military veteran, a combat medic who for the last 24 years has been on the front lines on Rikers Island. Eugenio Ramos is a Supervising captain in Special Operations. His ESU officers were the ones who finally took control of a wild jailhouse gang fight in early August that had gone on for nearly an hour. We obtained that video 3 weeks later.

WALLACE: "Why did that melee go on so long?" RAMOS: "Why did it go on for so long?" What I witnessed was more shock, confusion, inexperience by staff.

Ramos says the officers in the housing area were outnumbered and overwhelmed.

"There isn't proper training, staffing is minimal," he said.

Several inmates and one staff member were injured, but Ramos, who negotiated an end to the brawl with gang members, says it could have been much worse.

"It could have gone horribly wrong if they didn't cooperate? You had 5o inmates, but there could have been 150 more surrounding," Ramos said. "It's been bothering me every day since the incident that it's not been properly addressed and dealt with."

You would think there would have been an immediate investigation.

"No one contacted me until 3 weeks later when you exposed it on Channel 7," he said. "I was literally sitting by with everybody else watching the expose and as soon as it aired I received a phone call to submit a report pertaining to the incident."

And he did - a detailed 3-page report noting the added concern of officers being taking hostage.

"Clearly, I am the individual who took control of the facility. You would think they would want my take of what went on," Ramos said. "To this day, I have yet to be questioned, interviewed, asked my opinion in reference to it. I have not been called by any internal or external agency in reference to this.

"That tells me they are not serious about rectifying what happened. I have to live with my conscience and that's why I'm here now," Ramos said.

Since our interview, Captain Ramos says he was finally contacted by investigators a couple of days ago. The Department claims it began reaching out in mid-October, but that Ramos refused to participate. A spokesman adds the investigation has been ongoing and that several staff members have already been interviewed about the brawl.

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