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Guards Injured, Inmate Pepper Sprayed At Green Haven, Union Says

Green Haven Correctional Facility
Green Haven Correctional Facility Photo Credit:

DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. - An inmate serving 25 years at the Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville for manslaughter and attempted murder required pepper spray to be restrained over the weekend during an assault that left two officers with minor injuries, according to the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA).

Shortly before 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, 50-year-old inmate Anthony Torres, who had just returned to his cell, refused to close and lock the gate, the NYSCOPBA said. He continued to refuse to lock the gate following several verbal requests from the officer assigned to his cell block, the NYSCOPBA said.

When the officer approached the cell in an attempt to close and lock the gate, Torres grabbed him by the shirt with both hands, attempting to pull him into the cell, NYSCOPBA Public Relations Director James Miller, said in a statement. The officer attempted to pull away, but was unsuccessful, suffering several punches to his body as he attempted to push Torres off, according to the NYSCOPBA.

During the attack, the officer activated his personal alarm and struck the inmate several times in the struggle as he attempted to free himself, said the NYSCOPBA. A second officer responded to the scene to assist, using pepper spray on Torres’ face to get him to release the shirt, according to the NYSCOPBA.

The officers were able to get free, but reported that Torres continued to “struggle violently with both officers when they attempted to get restraints on him,” and two additional officers were required to put Torres in body holds while restraints were applied, the NYSCOPBA said.

Torres - who was convicted of fatally stabbing his estranged wife and her injuring her boyfriend 12 years ago in Queens - was subsequently removed and placed in a special housing unit and now faces additional disciplinary charges, the NYSCOPBA said. Both officers sustained minor injuries and were treated by the Green Haven medical staff, according to the NYSCOPBA.

“Sunday’s incident is a clear example of how providing our members with additional resources, like pepper spray, can help protect them as well as get violent inmates under control quickly,” Mid-Hudson Region Vice President Michael Mazzella said in a statement.

“We are very lucky that none of our officers sustained serious injuries as it easily could have turned out that way if the officer did not deploy the pepper spray to thwart the attack. Currently DOCCS has a pilot program to examine the use of pepper spray. It has proven effective and it should be utilized in all of our correctional facilities to minimize the violence.”

The NYSCOPBA represents more than 30,000 state employees and retirees from the Security Services Unit.

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