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Correction officers injured in prison incidents in Malone

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MALONE - The New York State Corrections Officer and Police Benevolence Association (NYSCOPBA) is reporting two inmate-on-staff assaults took place at Upstate and Franklin Correctional Facilities on May 9 and left multiple corrections officers (COs) with injuries. NYSCOPBA is withholding the officer’s names by request. The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYSDOCCS) also declined releasing the names.

Franklin incident

According to NYSCOPBA Northern Region Vice President Randy Page, inmate Carlos Ocasio, 31, jumped over a rail in the mess line and assaulted another inmate. A NYSCOPBA press release states five COs were injured while trying to quell the altercation, with one sustaining injuries requiring he be sent to Alice Hyde Medical Center for trauma. Page said the officer fell to the ground during the scuffle and Ocasio kicked him repeatedly in the head, face, and neck. The CO has not yet returned to work and AHMC has not given NYSCOPBA an update on his status, so Page said he is unsure of how seriously he is injured.

Page said the other four officers felt they were in good enough shape to immediately return to work after the fight.

“The most volatile and dangerous place in a facility for a fight... is the mess hall,” Page said. “There’s too many inmates all in one small area to be able to control them.”

Page said both Ocasio and the other inmate are high-level Bloods gang members and the attack was “a power struggle.”

“He [Ocasio] was trying to move up the chain,” Page said.

Cutler would neither confirm or deny Ocasio’s gang affiliation, but did say he was cited for gang-related activity at Mohawk Correctional Facility in August 2010.

Cutler said Ocasio was cited for violent conduct and fighting in 2009 and during a previous bid in 2003.

Ocasio is serving his third state prison sentence since 1998, according to the NYSDOCCS website. He was sentenced to 27 to 52 months for fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance in 2008. He is scheduled to be released on Aug. 11, according to the website.

In October 2000, he was given a 30 to 60 month sentence for fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and was paroled in May 2006.

In 1998, he was taken in to the state prison system from juvenile detention to finish serving a one to three year sentence for second-degree attempted murder, for which he was sentenced in 1996 at age 16. He was released in February 1999.

All of the above-mentioned offenses took place in Bronx County, according to NYSDOCCS.

“He presents a pattern of aggressive/violent and drug-related criminal behavior,” reads his most recent NYSDOCCS intake interview.

Cutler said Ocasio has been transferred to Franklin’s secure housing unit (SHU). He said an internal investigation into the incident is underway, but has not concluded.

Upstate incident

Page said that during a cell extraction procedure, a CO narrowly missed being stabbed in the neck with a homemade metal knife, or “shiv.”

NYSDOCCS spokesman Peter Cutler said the incident began when prison staff noticed inmate Marcos Diaz, 26, behaving strangely in his cell and decided to investigate further.

“He just seemed to be behaving in a strange manner, some may describe as menacing,” Cutler said, but did not go into specifics. He did say prison staff had reasons to “properly equip themselves” before going into the cell and had concern for potential self-harm.

Page said that after trying to coax Diaz out of the cell, they tried to remove him forcefully, at first tear gassing the cell, then sending in a five-man extraction team in protective gear.

“They do anything they can to not use force in a cell extraction,” Page said. He added that before sending in the five-man team, they will send in a lieutenant, a captain, a counselor, and possibly a clergyman to try and talk the inmate out.

Diaz then tried to stab a crisis intervention officer (CIO) in the neck with the weapon, but it instead bounced off his protective headgear and gas mask, leaving a small cut in the apparatus.

“The inmate’s intent was to stab and try to kill the officer,” Page said. “If he hadn’t had the gas mask on, he’d have got it in the neck.”

Diaz is listed on the NYSDOCCS website as having entered the state prison system in 2010 to serve a two to six year sentence for first-degree reckless endangerment, for which he became eligible for parole in April. Cutler said Diaz was convicted of firing shots at his neighbor’s door. The offense took place in New York County, according to NYSDOCCS.

Cutler said Diaz is still being held at Upstate.

Officials’ reactions

“This is starting to get real regular at Franklin, Bare Hill, and Upstate,” Page said. I’ve been a statewide representative for the northern region for 10 years now and I’ve never seen this many assaults. I don’t know what’s going on, but the inmates don’t care now.”

“It’s an indication of the dangers COs face on the job and the difficulty some inmates have adjusting to their incarceration,” Cutler said. “Both these incidents prove the security staff has no equal among COs in the country - they did their jobs well and with great professionalism.”

agardner@mtelegram.com

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