Eight corrections officers now have been charged in the ongoing investigation
Four senior corrections officers have been charged with second-degree aggravated assault and official misconduct related to an incident where prisoners were assaulted and seriously injured at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in the early morning of Jan. 12.
A total of eight corrections officers now have been charged in the ongoing criminal investigation by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability and the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office.
“We’ve now charged eight officers in these brutal attacks at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, and we continue to pursue all evidence and leads in our ongoing investigation,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “I promised to hold everyone accountable who played a role in this horrific incident, at any level of the prison’s hierarchy, and we’re working hard to meet that promise.”
Between about 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 and 1:15 a.m. on Jan. 12, corrections officers and supervisors assigned to the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton conducted forced cell extractions of inmates located in a complex known as the restorative housing unit. Senior correctional police officers Jose Irizarry, Courey James, Gustavo Sarmiento Jr, and Tara Wallace allegedly were involved in the forced cell extractions.
Women were forced to leave their cells rather than being allowed to leave voluntarily. One woman could be heard crying in pain as she was struck multiple times by officers, who fractured her orbital bone. A second woman was pepper-sprayed after officers entered her cell. One officer used a shield on her even though she was not resisting, and another officer punched her in the head and neck area 28 times, resulting in a concussion and facial injuries.
The officers charged on Thursday allegedly aided, abetted, and failed to prevent the unauthorized use of force despite their legal duty to prevent it. They also allegedly failed to report the unauthorized use of force against the women.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Second-degree official misconduct charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without the possibility of parole. Second-degree aggravated assault charges carries a mandatory term of parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed.
Anyone with information about the incident or abuse at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility is asked to call the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability’s confidential tip line at 1-844-OPIA-TIPS.