NEWARK — An Essex County corrections officer told jurors today she lied to protect a fellow officer accused of pummeling a female inmate in 2011 because she feared he’d get in trouble if she didn’t.
Officer Yasmina Allen said her written report of the August 2011 incident suggested inmate Emirlene Philemon, 20, struck the first blow in a confrontation with Officer Carlton Clark at the Essex County jail.
“Inmate began hitting Officer Clark at which point Officer Clark used the minimal force necessary to subdue the inmate,” Allen wrote in her report.
Clark, 40, is facing 20 years in prison on aggravated assault and official misconduct charges for an attack captured in a jailhouse video that was shown to jurors last week.
From the witness stand today, Allen told jurors in state Superior Court in Newark that her written report contained lies.
“She began hitting Officer Clark after she got hit,” Allen testified. “Minimal force was not used.”
In a jailhouse video taken from security cameras, Clark has just returned Philemon to an inmate cell area after a trip to the medical unit when he abruptly spins around, grabs Philemon by the shoulder and repeatedly punches her in the face with a closed fist.
Allen said the attack was prompted by an off-color sexual suggestion from Philemon.
“I remember him squatting over the inmate,” Allen told Assistant Prosecutor Peter Polidoro. “I was trying to grab his forearm. He pushed me away. I was telling him to stop. I told him at least four times.”
“Just let her go,” she demanded, according to her testimony. Clark continued punching Philemon while she is on the ground, the video shows.
Allen told jurors that she was holding onto Philemon by the waist and trying to wrest her back into the cell area while Clark was pulling the inmate’s hair.
Last week, Philemon testified that her eye was fractured in the attack, her tooth was chipped and hair was pulled from her head. At the time she was being held on an armed robbery charge. In June 2012, she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of receiving stolen property and was sentenced to 383 days in jail, time she had already served.
Clark’s attorney, Anthony Iacullo, says his client was trying to diffuse an incident that had the potential to escalate into a full-blown riot in a jail where officers are vastly outnumbered by inmates.
Iacullo attacked Allen’s credibility and at one point demanded a mistrial, claiming prosecutors failed to alert him that Allen would testify that she lied in her report to protect Clark. The request was denied.
“You looked at this jury and you said what was written in that report was not the truth?,” Iacullo asked Allen.
“Yes,” she replied.
“You know as an officer you’re not supposed to lie, right?,” Iacullo added.
After her initial report, Essex County prosecutors gave Allen immunity from possible official misconduct charges for the untruthful report. In return, she agreed to testify truthfully about Clark’s role in the attack, Polidoro said.
After viewing the video, Allen gave prosecutors a statement in September 2011 meant to correct what she had written in her report.
“I’ve had a couple of weeks to replay all this in my mind,” she told prosecutors, according to testimony today. “It happened so fast right then and there that my report might not reflect everything in that video.”
Clark remains on suspension from his job at the jail.
In : #EssexCounty
Tags: thomas zambito / essex county corrections officer says she lied about colleagues' role in beating of female inmate
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