A man has accused Rikers guards of brutally beating him while visiting his boyfriend in the lock-up, saying they first verbally abused him before assaulting him.
According to a press release from Lambda Legal, which has taken on the case, Thomas Hamm went to the facility last May to visit his partner, P.F., who was an inmate there. Hamm greeted P.F. with a hug and a kiss, which is currently allowed under Department of Correction guidelines (but perhaps not for long).
Nevertheless, the lawsuit contends that correction officers ordered the pair to stop their greeting, and continued to harass them through the duration of the visit, calling them "faggots" while they held hands on the table, despite many other couples doing the same. A correction officer cut the visit short, and, as Hamm was leaving, one officer allegedly told him, "in sum and substance, 'Fucking homosexual, who the fuck do you think you are?' and “You’ll burn in hell.'"
Hamm tried to leave, but was allegedly grabbed by several officers and beaten, with the officers punching and kicking him repeatedly. He was eventually taken to Elmhurst hospital, where he was treated for facial fractures and head trauma.
After he was discharged from the hospital, Hamm was taken back to Rikers, where he was ordered banned from the jail for 180 days, as well as charged with third degree assault and second degree harassment. He was given an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, meaning that his case will be dismissed as long as he doesn't have any other incidents.
"I went to Rikers to visit my loved one, and left beaten, my face shattered, in shackles, and charged with a crime I did not commit," Hamm said in a statement. "The corrections officers’ anti-gay hate crime against me was covered up. Something is very rotten at Rikers; no one else should have to suffer the abuses that the City has allowed to run rampant."
The city Department of Correction is investigating Hamm's claims, and told the NY Post, that it will "evaluate the merits of each of these claims and respond accordingly."
Rikers guards have a long and storied history of assaulting prisoners. Last month, a 28-year-old inmate was awarded a $450,000 settlement after he was found to have been hogtied and beaten by a Rikers captain and five correction officers in 2012.