By Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK, Sept 29 (Reuters) - A New York judge is recommending six correction officers at the city's largest jail be fired for the hog-tying and brutal beating of an inmate who was handcuffed in a segregated mental health unit, according to a ruling released on Monday.
Robert Hinton was seriously hurt in the April 3, 2012, incident at the Rikers Island jail complex, where he suffered facial injuries and a back fracture, according to the ruling by Administrative Law Judge Tynia Richard.
Hinton was resisting being transferred to a new cell when he was beaten, the ruling said.
The treatment of inmates at Rikers, which holds some 14,000 prisoners, has come under scrutiny and criticism in recent months.
A federal government report in August found a pattern of abuse of juvenile inmates, Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised reforms and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has threatened legal action.
In the ruling released on Monday, the judge was stinging in her criticism of the Rikers officers.
"Individuals who themselves are out of control cannot be made the overlords of any group of inmates," she wrote.
All six should be fired, she said.
The officers claimed they uncuffed the inmate who then kicked one of them and put another in a choke hold, the ruling said.
The judge wrote that after a hearing, she did not believe their claims and found them guilty of misconduct.
"The evidence established that the force was unnecessary, impermissible, and excessive" and the officers "intentionally misrepresented" what happened, she wrote.
A Rikers video shows the officers carrying Hinton through a hallway, hands and feet tied behind his back, the judge wrote.
There is no video of what transpired in his cell, where Hinton remained shackled and "incapable of defending himself," she said.
The judge was harshest on the highest-ranking officer, Captain Budnarine Behari.
"His judgment in these matters was so poor, indeed reckless, as to suggest that Behari intended to engage Hinton or provoke a conflict that day," the judge wrote.
Norman Seabrook, head of the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association jail union, said Behari failed to supervise the others.
"Correction officers are soldiers, and we follow instructions," Seabrook said. "The captain was clearly wrong here in ordering these correction officers to use whatever force that they used against this inmate in defense of themselves."
The union will fight the terminations, he said. (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)