Union slams mayor over jail guard’s assault by inmates

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NEW YORK -

The city Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio Monday after four inmates accused of viciously assaulting a Rikers Island correction officer within the jail appeared in court.

Video shows Officer Jean Souffrant being beaten by a group of prisoners. The 39-year-old officer suffered a fractured spine and brain bleeding.

The alleged ringleader is Steven Espinal, who investigators say planned the attack because Souffrant wrote him up for breaking rules and putting a curtain over his jail cell window.

The other suspects are Samson Walston, Nazeem Francis and Devin Burns, who allegedly beat, kicked and punched the victim. All four were housed in a special unit for young inmates who had prior violent infractions.

Union officials say it's outrageous, and they're blaming Mayor de Blasio for his decision not to segregate youthful offenders.

In 2014, the de Blasio administration ended punitive segregation, a form of solitary confinement, for inmates between 16 and 21 years old. The union says that age group happens to be the most violent in Rikers Island.

The mayor's office did not immediately respond to a News 12 request for comment.

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