The teenage inmates who attacked 16 correction officers inside the increasingly lawless Horizon Juvenile Center last week were angry they were told to remove their do-rags, said one officer whose nose was broken by a walkie-talkie-wielding inmate.
The officers were hurt on Oct. 7 when 13 inmates attacked three officers in the mess hall during breakfast, and other officers stepped in, according to a correction source.
The riot was just the latest violence to erupt in the Bronx facility since 16- and 17-year-olds were transferred there from Rikers Island as part of the state’s Raise the Age initiative that took effect on Oct. 1. The law prohibits the teens from automatically being charged as adults, or held in city jails.
“One of the officers came into the mess hall and gave the order [to remove do-rags] . . . then multiple inmates came toward me in an aggressive manner yelling profanities saying ‘f–k you, we are not going to listen,’” said the officer, who requested anonymity. His description of the incident matched records obtained by The Post.
“As I’m holding one of the inmates against the wall, another inmate picks up the portable radio [that fell from another officer’s belt] and as I look toward the left, he throws the radio and struck me, breaking my nose.
“I was spitting out blood, meanwhile trying to restrain the inmate against the wall.”
The officer, who received eight stitches and has been out of work since the assault, said the bloody attack happened inside the “Transitional Restorative Unit” for bad-behaving inmates.
The inmate rebellion came just four days after 20 correction officers were hurt in a gang-related melee at Horizon.
As of Friday, a total of 42 Horizon correction officers were out because they had been injured on the job since the teens were transferred there just two weeks ago, according to Correction Officers Benevolent Association President Elias Husamudeen.
On Wednesday, the state approved city Correction officers working at Horizon to use pepper spray on troublesome inmates. The union had long sought this permission.
While stationed at Rikers — where officers are allowed to carry the disabling spray — the injured officer said the teen inmates taunted Corrections staff about what would happen once they were transferred to the Bronx facility and working unarmed.
“They said ‘just wait until we get to Horizon,’” said the injured officer, who was reassigned to the 90-inmate juvenile facility when the teens were moved.
“There are supposed to be 330 [Department of Correction] personnel,” at the Horizon facility, Husamudeen said. “Currently I believe they have about 150.”
The rest of the officers make up for the staffing shortage by working grueling overtime shifts — sometimes stretching as long as 19 hours, the injured officer said.
“Me and just about every other officer who is there have done that,” he said. “You’re tired, sometimes you’re fatigued and that puts the facility more at risk.”
A Correction Department spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.