New York Daily News: EAST RIVER, By Graham Rayman – The Rikers Island inmate who used smuggled cell phones to make videos of lawlessness inside the city jail says he did so because Correction Department staff denied him necessary medication.
Anthony Wallace, 34, a hip-hop artist from Jamaica, Queens, who goes by the name ‘Teflon Da Don’, told the Daily News that he got fed up with the inattention, unsafe conditions and lack of basic services.
“I used to have seizures every day, and I said, ‘One day, I’m going to show them what they’re doing is wrong,’” Wallace said from state prison.
In May and June, Wallace used smuggled phones to make two 10-minute videos titled “Locked in Loaded” he posted on YouTube detailing the out-of-control scenarios that play out behind bars.
A general view shows the Rikers Island facility on June 6, 2022 – ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images
“I was trying to give people a look at what’s really going on in Rikers and I was hoping that the right people would see it,” he told The News. “The opportunity was there. What’s happening there is not right.”
When he made the videos, Wallace was nearly three years into a pre-trial ordeal on Rikers that began in July 2019, when he was arrested on manslaughter charges.
Prosecutors alleged he ran a red light and smashed into a double-parked dump truck in Brooklyn, killing his friend Tyrone Scott on July 31, 2019. Cops found marijuana and an open bottle of Hennessy in the car.
Wallace was convicted of felony assault and was sentenced to up to five years in prison. He is currently in the Cape Vincent Correctional Facility in New York near the Canadian border.
The lack of medical care at Rikers made his seizure disorder worse, he says.
“They were leaving me in the housing area, and no officers was coming,” he said. “I had the paperwork that says I must get medication.”
Wallace also lost 30 pounds while in the city jail.
Before he started making his videos, he complained to the DOC and called 311. When that didn’t work, it was easy enough to find someone with access to contraband phones.
“Devices are available,” he said. “There was one person seeing the things going on with me and I was locked up so long and I was going through so much torture. They said, ‘put your story out there.’”
Other detainees were more than happy to get involved. “People wanted to be a part of it as a way to connect with family,” he said.
Wallace included a scene where a man gets slashed in the shower to depict the peril at Rikers. “It’s way more dangerous than the video,” he said. “A person can’t even go and take a comfortable shower.”
He included scenes of drug use in the jail to illustrate the ease of getting narcotics. In some scenes, his “actors” are smoking regular tea from tea bags. In others, he said, fentanyl was used.
“If you have money you can do whatever in there,” he said.
Wallace’s videos depict very little security and an ease of movement between units.
“They don’t fix the doors,” he said. “Everything is free form. I can move wherever I want.”
When someone suffers a bad beating, sometimes it takes 90 minutes to get someone to clean up the blood, he said.
“We had to find a way to fend for ourselves,” he said. “They literally left us there, do whatever they do.”
Wallace says correction officers were often not around in the unit where he was housed and there was no commissary for months. Sometimes, he said, the officers who did show would pit detainees off against one another.
“The COs pick and choose who they want to deal with,” he said.
The Correction Department did not return a request from The News for comment.
When commissary finally returned, Wallace and others celebrated by making a big pile of chips — as captured in one of his videos, he said.
Wallace says he taught himself how to edit scenes using a program he could access on the phones and had no other help.
“I did everything myself. This was my dream to make movies on the outside, and do my music,” he said. “I always want to give people my experience.”
Top Feature Photo: Anthony Wallace aka ‘Teflon Da Don’ – YouTube