Reference Library – News
Posted: Mar. 25, 2017 8:00 am Updated: Mar. 25, 2017 8:55 am
NEW YORK (AP) The latest in a string of brutality cases against Rikers Island guards has added fuel to a growing debate on whether New York City’s notoriously violent jail complex has become so dysfunctional it should be shut down. At least 35 staff members at Rikers have faced criminal charges in the past three years, including 13 for assault or attempted assault. Federal prosecutors have also charged more than a half dozen Rikers guards with violating inmates’ civil rights through excessive force, smuggling drugs and other charges since 2014.
“Rikers Island is one of these long-term injustices and abuses that every New Yorker should be outraged about,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “The situation is intolerable.”
Inmate activists have for more than a year argued that shutting down the sprawling, 10-jail complex on the East River is the only solution for a cycle of abuses that include violence by guards and gang members, mistreatment of the mentally ill and juveniles and unjustly long detention for minor offenders.
“If you are a New Yorker who cares about the soul of the criminal justice system, you know that Rikers is the belly of the beast,” said Glenn Martin, founder of the nonprofit group JustLeadershipUSA, which seeks to decrease the number of Americans behind bars. Among the other arguments for closing Rikers is that the island facility near La Guardia Airport accessible only by a narrow bridge is too isolated, cutting off inmates from the outside world in a way that hinders oversight and rehabilitation.
Daily populations at Rikers have recently been falling below the roughly 10,000 capacity, a trend city officials attribute to reducing detention for those charged with misdemeanor drug possession. Advocates say that makes it viable to dismantle Rikers and replace it with a combination of new and expanded existing jails in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Cost estimates have reached as high as $10 billion. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has stuck to his position that reforms and improvements at Rikers are both the least costly and most practical approach. A 2015 settlement of civil litigation over persuasive brutality at Rikers imposed various changes, including the addition of thousands of surveillance cameras, stricter policies on use of force and the appointment of a federal monitor to oversee conditions.
Cuomo, who frequently is at odds with fellow Democrat de Blasio, took an indirect jab at the mayor at a community forum earlier this month, saying his view of the city’s position is that closing Rikers would be “too hard.”
“Well you know what, impotence is not a defense for me,” the governor said. “New York City can accomplish anything it wants to, when it wants to. It just needs the political will. It is an outrage in New York City to allow Rikers Island to exist.”
The latest brutality case stems from security videotape in a maximum-security shower area that shows guard Rodiny Calypso viciously attacking an unnamed inmate in February 2014, a criminal complaint says. After the pair exchanged words Calypso claims the inmate spit on him the guard handcuffed the victim and punched him in the face and the head several times, it says. Calypso, 38, was released on $150,000 bond. His attorney, Joey Jackson, said Tuesday his client “awaits the opportunity to address the specific allegations in court. An independent commission headed by the state’s former chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, is close to announcing recommendations for reforms in the city’s criminal justice system, including whether to shut Rikers for good.
The challenge, Lippman has said, is “to imagine a state-of-the-art criminal justice system in New York City that does not rely on a de facto penal colony on the outskirts of town.”
His friends say the only thing Joshua Carmona loved more than baseball was his mother.
She would take him on road trips to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and buy tickets months out for New York Yankees games at Tropicana Field. She would cheer from the bleachers at his West Tampa Little League games, and whenever he talked of going pro some day, it was always as a way to take care of her. But baseball also brought his mother together with the man she would marry, Stephen D’Angelo. Trips to Tropicana came to include the daughter the couple have together, now 3, and Carmona eventually stopped tagging along. By the time he enrolled at Jefferson High School, he had given up on trying out for the team.
On Monday, Tahirih Lua D’Angelo’s 39th birthday, Carmona picked up a baseball bat his stepfather had given him and struck his mother as she stood in the kitchen of their Riverview townhome, relatives and sheriff’s investigators said. He beat her repeatedly then stabbed her neck with a butcher knife. She was found in a bathroom, nearly decapitated, her body wrapped in a comforter. Horrified, friends and family are left probing through memories that might somehow explain how a bright loner once teased in school for being a momma’s boy could so violently attack the woman who gave him life.
They point to the changes in his family, the pressures of college’s first year, the counseling sessions for depression. His drug use came to the surface in November, when Pennsylvania State Police found him with marijuana, contemplating suicide in a stolen car. The rarity of children killing a parent it accounts for about 2 percent of U.S. homicides helps explain why it’s such a shocking crime. But few other explanations are clear in Tara D’Angelo’s death, except perhaps this: She inspired a deep passion in her son, so much so that he once brought a high school auditorium to tears reading an essay on how much he loved her.
“He was always with his mom, talking about how he loved her and he didn’t want to let her down,” said his high school friend Miguel Guzman. “He loved his mom to death. He really did.”
Raised by a single mother of three, Tara D’Angelo developed a love for sports at an early age. She was full of energy, outgoing and “soft-hearted,” said her best friend Renee Davis. She had held a job ever since Davis met her at Hillsborough High School. If she happened to have a night off, it was spent singing karaoke, tailgating with friends or hanging out at casinos. When D’Angelo was 20, she became pregnant with Joshua. She had only known his father briefly and when he learned of the pregnancy, he left, Davis said.
When her son was about 4, D’Angelo left him with her mother and moved away. Details about why are few. Relatives say she worked odd jobs in Arizona, Wyoming and Oregon, staying in contact with her son and making trips home for holidays. In April 2009, she moved back to Tampa and five months later, she met Stephen D’Angelo. Joshua could have lived with his mother the day she came back, but he chose to remain with his grandmother until she died when he was 11. His mother would take Joshua on trips and work extra hours to pay for the toys and video games she knew he wanted, but the once happy child became more and more withdrawn.
“If she knew he wanted something she would get it for him,” Davis said. “That’s why I don’t understand why he would do this. She worked so hard to buy him stuff because she wasn’t there for him when he was growing up. But it wasn’t enough.”
Miguel Guzman befriended Joshua Carmona in a freshman math class at Jefferson High School after making a joke about his Yankees baseball cap. Carmona was quiet and nerdy and Guzman, by his own account, was a popular troublemaker. Guzman was drawn to his new friend’s kindness and depth. Carmona would help him with his homework and Guzman would stick up for Carmona when bullies picked on him in the hallways. He would walk Carmona to classes, like “a human cage.”
When kids laughed and called him a mama’s boy, he got so mad he turned “red as the sun,” Guzman said. Carmona had a temper, and it showed when Guzman told him he was leaving school sophomore year to get a GED. Relatives saw his temper, too, and worried because he rarely engaged them in conversation, said his uncle Luis Carmona. Most of his days were spent inside his bedroom.
“There was nothing keeping him there if he disliked the people he was with,” Luis Carmona said. “He was smart, he was educated, he had every opportunity, and every resource available to him to leave was there.”
Guzman, 20, lost contact with Joshua Carmona until he saw him last summer working at a juice kiosk in the Westfield Brandon mall. Carmona talked about how excited he was to be going to Fordham University in Manhattan.
Most of Carmona’s friends from high school got to know him junior year. That’s when he started smoking marijuana and became more outgoing, said one friend, Yahel Hernandez, 19. Hernandez was popular, a member of many school clubs and had a big group of friends. After he befriended Carmona, Hernandez said, the once shy honors student began attending games and homecoming dances. He became president of the National Math Honors Society and spoke out on politics. Senior year, Hernandez persuaded Carmona to join him in the “Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson” pageant. Hernandez took the title, but Carmona was thrilled to be chosen second runner up. For the talent portion, Carmona read about his mother a moving speech that brought the auditorium to tears, Hernandez said.
Things took a turn for the worse, though. His first kiss was from Sabrina Feliciano, class valedictorian, after he asked her if she would be his date for the senior prom. But even teachers soon learned the story behind why she showed up to the dance alone. Her date passed out in a hotel room while “pre-gaming” with friends, and didn’t make it to the dance until well after it was over. Carmona always made her laugh, Feliciano said, but she distanced herself from him because of his partying. Still, she said, “The guy who did this to his mom was not the Joshua I know.”
Carmona maintained his grades, earning a perfect score on his AP Psychology exam. He graduated 11th in his class last May, completing the Criminal Justice magnet program and earning a certification to be a security guard. He doted on his little sister and is only seen smiling in family photos with her.
But shortly after graduation, Tara D’Angelo kicked her son out of the house where he lived with her, Stephen D’Angelo, the couple’s daughter and an aunt for smoking marijuana. Stephen D’Angelo is a customer service representative for a utility company and his wife, who works at a Walmart, was pursuing an associate’s degree. Carmona spent about a month couch surfing before he left for college in a rental car. He saw his mother briefly before he left, said her father-in-law Bob D’Angelo. Carmona left Fordham midway through the first semester and his friends assumed it was because of financial struggles or grades. He never told them he had been arrested for stealing a woman’s car after driving to Pennsylvania to attempt suicide.
Four months later, Carmona, 18, is in jail on a charge of first degree murder, awaiting a bail hearing Monday. His public defender declined to comment for this story. Carmona was arrested after being pulled over by a Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy Monday night. Investigators said he had intended to kill his stepfather, too, but his plan fell through. The family has told his step-sister that her mother won’t be coming home. Talking to her about her brother will be a harder conversation. They’ve set up a gofundme.com page to help pay costs they’re incurring from the slaying.
“I don’t think I can call him my friend knowing what he’s done, but for a while he was my best friend,” Hernandez said. “When I think back on all of those interactions I still feel the same and those memories I’ll never forget.”
Contact Anastasia Dawson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.
- ^ BACKSTORY: Son, 18, accused of killing his mother on her birthday (www.tampabay.com)
DAVENPORT Delores A. Weiskopf, 77, of Davenport, passed away Thursday, March 23, 2017, at Good Samaritan Society, Davenport. Funeral services will be at noon Monday, March 27, at Runge Mortuary. Visitation will be two hours prior to the service. Burial will be in Pine Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Good Samaritan Society, Davenport. Online tributes and condolences may be expressed at rungemortuary.com.
Delores was born Jan. 27, 1940, in Davenport, the daughter of Albert and Dorothy (Boltz) Weiskopf. After high school, she moved to Louisiana and worked as a security guard for Shell Oil. In 1995, she moved back to the Quad-Cities and recently retired from the I-80 Truck Stop in Walcott.
Sign up to get each day’s obituaries sent to your email inbox
In her spare time, she really enjoyed spending time at the casinos with friends and family. Those left to honor her memory include her brother, Wayne Weiskopf; sisters, Karol (Elmer) Mangels, and Marlene (Edward) Allers; three nieces, five nephews and her precious cat, Mittens. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brother, Daniel.