GOUVERNEUR — The union representing state corrections officers is calling for criminal charges to be levied against an inmate who allegedly assaulted officers at Gouverneur Correctional Facility last month.
The New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association this week reported three officers had sustained minor injuries as a result of an incident with a 32-year-old inmate during routine rounds Jan. 25.
The inmate, according to the union, was smoking a cigarette in a bathroom stall of his dormitory when an officer asked the man to extinguish the cigarette. Noncompliant, the inmate was ordered out of the stall to be frisked and placed his hands on the wall before he “suddenly turned and started throwing punches at the officer.”
The officer was reportedly struck on the left side of the face before backing up and administering pepper spray. The union maintains the inmate “continued to come at the officer,” who pulled the inmate to the floor in a body hold. As a second officer arrived in the bathroom, the inmate broke free from the floor body hold and “charged at” the second officer.
The inmate complied when two officers floored him in a body hold. The union further alleges a third officer was “head-butted” by the inmate as he was being escorted from the bathroom.
Two officers — one with hip soreness and lower back pain, the other with a bruised cheekbone and blurred vision — remained on duty. The officer who initially encountered the inmate was taken off site for treatment of a chipped tooth and sprained thumb.
The inmate, currently serving an eight-year sentence for a 2018 first-degree attempted robbery conviction out of New York County, was placed in a special housing unit after the incident. He faces disciplinary charges, according to the union, but may also face criminal charges should the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office get involved.
NYSCOPBA Central Region Vice President Bryan Hluska called the incident “a sudden and unprovoked attack” on the officer and asked for two felony assault charges to be filed.
“A strong message needs to be sent to inmates that violent attacks on staff will not go unpunished,” Mr. Hluska said in a news release Thursday afternoon.
District Attorney Gary M. Pasqua on Thursday said he had not reviewed all the information from the correctional facility about the incident or the inmate and could not yet comment on whether charges would be filed.