Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to sentence a former correction officer on New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex to nearly 30 years in prison for violating the civil rights of a seriously ill inmate who died after the officer assaulted him, the New York Times reports. The officer, Brian Coll, 48, kicked the inmate, Ronald Spear, repeatedly in the head while other officers held him face down on the floor. Coll then lifted Spear’s head and leaned in close, one witness, a fellow correction officer, testified. “This is what you get,” the witness said Coll told Spear, using an expletive. “Remember I did this.”
Spear’s death in 2012 was seen as highlighting the culture of violence and the code of silence among guards that has long existed at Rikers. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, which has made violence at Rikers a focus of its civil rights investigations and prosecutions, said Coll should receive a “significant” sentence that “approaches” the 30 years recommended by the court’s probation department, and is “well beyond” the roughly four to six years Coll’s lawyers have recommended. “Coll’s conduct was brutal; it was violent, it was willful, and it was callous,” office of Joon H. Kim, the acting United States attorney, told Judge Loretta Preska of Federal District Court, who is to sentence Coll on Wednesday.