Wild Retaliation: DOC SWAT Team Raids Injured Officer’s Home After Verbal Altercation with Captain

Shaun Dixon

Officer Shaun Dixon stands near his building’s security system. A DOC captain snuck into his building following a deliveryman at least two times before he returned with a SWAT team.

Shaun Dixon was a decorated U.S. Navy veteran when he joined the New York City Department of Correction 15 years ago. Things went well for several years and his good work was recognized with commendations and awards.

Dixon’s pains, first caused by an inmate, but more recently by his employer, offers a glimpse into why morale is reportedly very low amongts correction officers.

Dixon’s troubles began on Oct. 29,  2018 at around 7.20 p.m. when, he says, he was viciously attacked by an inmate on Riker’s Island. The assault left officer Dixon with damaged nerves in his right hand. He had surgery on Sept. 26, 2019. He tried to resume work, reporting for “light duty” on Dec. 18, 2019, meaning he’d have no interactions with inmates. However, the pain was just too intense. “I was still unable to use my hand pertaining to daily activity. I lacked ability to grasp certain things,” Dixon recalls.

Dixon’s injury forced him to leave work again on April 25, 2020. Unable to return to work due to his injury, Dixon filed his papers for three-quarters disability on Sept. 2, 2020.

Dixon was out due to an injury, however, DOC categorized him as being out “sick.” As a result, he was wrongfully subjected to the more strident regulations that sick employees are subjected to, including limited sick days. Also, an officer who’s out sick can only leave his or her residence between the hours of 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and only for therapy or medical appointments. Several DOC officers interviewed by Black Star News say the Department deliberately—and illegally—categorize people injured on the job as being out “sick.” 

As Dixon continued his recovery from home, he thought he’d put the nightmare of the attack by the inmate behind him. Then things suddenly went downhill. This time, his chief tormentor was an officer from DOC. The officer turned what should have been routine home-visits to confirm that Dixon was in his residence, into a series of bizarre confrontations that kept escalating until Dixon’s home was raided by what was the equivalence of a DOC SWAT team. 

Officer Dixon stands next to the building’s security system.

The first home-visit was on Jan. 17, 2021. Dixon was home when his phone began to ring non-stop. The caller had a blocked number so Dixon, who says he’s wary of harassing telemarketers calls didn’t pick up. Dixon finally took the call when his phone wouldn’t stop ringing. The caller identified himself as a captain named Ferdinand Torres from the DOC’s 

Health Management Division (HMD). 

Dixon says he told Capt. Torres about the problems he’d had with telemarketers. “His response was ‘from now on if you don’t answer any of my restricted calls I’ll be showing up at your house unannounced,’” Dixon says. “Then he hung up on me.” 

Dixon says a few minutes later, Torres was knocking on his door on the sixth floor. He claimed he’d been able to enter the building—which has a security system that requires the residents to let people in—because the door was open. Dixon signed the form confirming that he was home and Torres left. He was so concerned by Torres’ conduct that he called and reported the incident to his union representative, Dixon says. 

On the day Torres returned, on May 8, 2021, Dixon says he’d been experiencing intense pain in his hand. “I had just taken one of the prescribed medications,” he recalls. At around 11:30 a.m., Dixon says he heard a tapping sound. After he got out of bed to investigate, he noticed a shadow indicating that someone was right outside his door. When he opened it, Capt. Torres was facing him. 

Dixon says he confronted Torres about evading his building’s security system. “I told him the security system was in place to prevent people who didn’t live there from entering and for the safety of the residents,” he says. Dixon says Torres once again claimed the door of the building had been open. Later, surveillance video revealed that Torres had lied, he says. The DOC captain has actually snuck into the building on the heels of a DHL delivery person. 

Dixon says he told Torres that in future he wouldn’t open the door if the captain intentionally evaded the security system. When Torres demanded that he sign the form confirming he was home, Dixon says he told him he was feeling too much pain in his writing hand. “I told him ‘I’m not feeling good today. I haven’t been able to utilize my hand in the manner that I want to all day,’” he recalls. “His response was ‘sign the fucking clipboard,” Dixon says. 

After the captain cursed at him Dixon says he closed the door. A few seconds later, Torres slid a “Not At Home” slip underneath the door. Dixon says after he quickly put on street clothes, he rushed after Torres, catching up with him in the building’s lobby. “I said ‘excuse me, why would you slide this under my door when you know that you and I had a verbal altercation?’ His response was ‘get the fuck out of my face,’” Dixon recalls. 

After the two men exchanged more angry words, Torres left, Dixon says. 

On May 18, 2021, Dixon says, he was once again suffering from intense pain in his hand. “I was just feeling irritable. I was getting the burning, the tingling, the prickly sensation in my hand,” he recalls. 

“I hear booming and banging,” Dixon continues. “I thought the door came off its edges. I went and I investigated. I opened the door. There’s about eight officers out there.”

Dixon was facing was seemed like a SWAT team. He says there were about 10 officers outside his door; some from the Mt. Vernon police department and the others from DOC. “They were in full gear, bullet proof vests, guns, radios blaring in the background you know, ready to breach the house,” Dixon recalls. “They said that they were to serve me some charges and confiscate my firearm.”

He was served with papers listing several charges against him, including allegedly insulting an officer, referring to Capt. Torres. One of the most preposterous charge was that he had failed to supervise inmates, even though DOC officials knew he had been home for the past 15 months, due to his injury. 

The home invasion was clearly blatant abuse of power by DOC, likely initiated by the vindictive Capt. Torres. 

After the raid on his home, Dixon was ordered to report to the Department of Investigation (DOI) on May 26, to provide his side of the story. “I said what was the use when they’d already made up their minds and taken action against me?” Dixon recalls. “I said ‘do you mean you shoot first and then ask questions later?’” 

Dixon did report to DOI because he was told he’d be suspended from work if he didn’t show up. 

The harassment escalated after the home raid, and the frequency of the visits went up. Between the time of the first visit in January, and the end of November, there had been about 28 visits, Dixon says. One day Dixon was visited twice within a one-hour period, he recalls. 

He says he spoke with officers who were also home recovering from injuries and learned that the average visits had been about three times.

In the most recent assault against Dixon, his employer is now threatening to fire him if he can’t report to full duty by Jan. 3, 2022. 

The Medical Separation/Termination letter, dated Dec. 3, 2021, bears the DOC letterhead with the name of the commissioner, Vincent Schiraldi. 

Even though Dixon is out injured, the letter wrongfully states that, “…records indicate that since on or about May 17, 2019 you have been on sick leave status and/or MMR status because of your inability to perform the full duties of your position with the Department by reason of a work-related disability.” 

“You are hereby directed to resolve your employment status with the Department on or before January 3, 2022,” the letter adds. “If you are physically and mentally fit to perform the full duties of your position and seek to return to work in a full duty capacity with no limitations, you must provide specific medical documentation indicating your full recovery from your particular disability,” the letter adds, knowing full well that Dixon can’t report for work and is waiting for his three-quarters disability hearing. 

The letter, absurdly, goes on to state that if Dixon objects to the DOC’s plans to fire him, he is entitled to ask for a hearing—by writing to Sarena Townsend, DOC’s Deputy Commissioner, Investigation and Trials— essentially to prove that he is indeed fit for duty. 

Dixon has been waiting almost 15 months now for the hearing to determine his eligibility for three-quarters disability, raising questions as to whether the process has been intentionally delayed by DOC.

So rather than allow Dixon to have his day in court for his three-quarters disability hearing before the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS), DOC, in a kangaroo-court type procedure is telling him he’s fired if he can’t prove he’s fit to return for full duty by Jan. 3, 2022. 

Remarkable new year’s gift for a military veteran injured on the job by an inmate. 

Dixon is an honorably discharged veteran who served in the U.S. Navy with distinction. During his enlistment he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. He was deployed in the western Pacific ocean between December 2002 and June 2005.

This week, on Dec. 14, 2021, Dixon discussed his ordeal in an interview on Black Star News Showon WBAI 99.5 FM radio.

Black Star News sent both DOC and Mayor Bill de Blasio detailed questions outlining Dixon’s allegations, seeking comment for this story. 

A DOC spokesperson sent the following response: “We value the service of all of our officers who sacrifice and work to keep our jails safe. We take these allegations seriously, and the claims made by Mr. Dixon are actively under investigation by both DOC and an independent agency.”

Capt. Torres did not return a phone message from Black Star News seeking comment for this story. 

Dixon joined DOC on November 9, 2006. He won three employee of the month awards for July 2008, January 2011, and December 2014; certificate of excellence, May 2010; certificate of honor May 2014; certificate of appreciation August 2009; certificate for staff appreciation May 2014; and a certificate in specialized protective security training with the New York City Police Department Intelligence Bureau, in 2016. 

Dixon claims his status was denied on Veterans Day, on Nov. 11, 2021, when it was previously granted in 2020.

Black Star News will continue reporting on abuse of power against officers at DOC and other City and State agencies. If you’re also a victim of similar abuses please reach Allimadi via [email protected] You can also follow him @allimadi 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *