Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner

Office of Public Information
[518] 457-8182

For immediate release:

Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Goord lauds quick action, coordination by Attica CO's in defusing incident

Commissioner Glenn S. Goord today lauded Attica Correctional Facility staff for their vigilance and quick actions last night that "more than likely prevented a minor incident from becoming a much larger one. Their actions reconfirm that staff vigilance and professionalism provide the first line of prison security."

A half-dozen Black inmates were lifting weights in A Yard at approximately 8:20 p.m. on Monday when they were approached by as many Hispanic inmates. The inmates appeared to be talking when the officer in the A Yard tower saw one of the Black inmates pull out what appeared to be a homemade knife. The tower officer immediately used his radio to notify officers in the yard, who immediately moved toward the weight area.

Simultaneously, the Hispanic inmate inmates fled the weight area. As the officers approached, most of the Black inmates also fled, with one throwing a weapon onto a catwalk. When they arrived at the weight area, the officers encountered inmate Yusef Rahman who was brandishing a homemade metal knife that was 2" x 15". As officers used their batons in an attempt to disarm Rahman, the A Tower officer fired one round from his AR-15 into a safe area. The inmate dropped his weapon and fell to the ground. An officer seized the weapon when Rahman tried to reach for it while he was on the ground. Rahman was forcibly removed from the yard.

"There were more than 160 inmates in the yard at the time," Commissioner Goord said. "The observation by the tower officer and the quick and coordinated response by the four yard officers to break up the two groups of inmates and to disarm Rahman ended the incident in just a few minutes, before other inmates realized what was happening and before anyone else could become involved."

The A Block inmates were lined up and three weapons were confiscated during a frisk as inmates were being returned to their cells. The remaining inmate yards were unaffected and remained open until their normal 10 p.m. closing. The balance of the facility has continued to operate normally.

Today, A Block inmates were let out slow for meals and then proceeded without incident to programs. Crisis Intervention Unit and the Department's Inspector General's staff are in the process of interviewing all of the inmates who were in the yard. Two weapons were found in a search of the empty A yard this morning. Frisks of A Block inmates today has led to the further confiscation of weapons.

Thus far, nine inmates plus Rahman have been confined to the disciplinary housing unit pending charges from last night's incident. Rahman, 31, is serving a 44-year-to-life sentence out of Suffolk County for second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, reckless endangerment and assault. Incarcerated since 1990, he is not eligible for parole until 2033. Following his conviction here, Rahman was sent to Missouri in 1991 to stand trial there. He is now serving his New York sentence concurrent with a life sentence handed down in Missouri for a murder in that state.