Two wrongs aren’t right for a Bronx crime victim whose assailant was convicted of robbing her — yet ended up winning $3.9 million from the city after he was a victim of a savage beatdown by Rikers Island correction officers.
“For him to go to jail for what he did to me — and now he’s the victim — it’s just baffling,” said Yvette Cruz, 51.
As she walked to a Bronx train station one day in 2012, Jahmal Lightfoot accosted her.
She heard his gun cock. “I was thinking this man was going to steal my car, drive to my house, put the key in the door and my daughter was there,” Cruz told the Daily News as she wiped away tears.
Cruz, who is petite, struggled with Lightfoot, who is 6 feet tall.
He shoved her to the ground and took off running. A good Samaritan driving by in an SUV spotted Cruz, distressed with her hands bloodied by the attack.
The motorist chased after Lightfoot, who was soon caught by police. Cruz later picked him out of a lineup and testified before a Bronx grand jury that indicted him on robbery charges.
Lightfoot pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery. As he was awaiting sentencing on Rikers Island a gang of correction officers beat him to a pulp.
Nine correction officers and a captain planned the beatdown as a barbaric lesson for other inmates to stop slashings in the troubled facility.
Cruz submitted a victim impact statement for a Bronx prosecutor to read at Lightfoot’s sentencing.
“This was so traumatizing to me because he took everything,” she said.
“I was so shaken to the core … there was no way I could go to court. I would have literally just passed out,” said Cruz, who still suffers from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I was traumatized. I knew he was sentenced and locked up, but it didn’t give me peace.”
While Lightfoot served five years in prison upstate for robbing Cruz, the wheels of justice ground out for the Rikers guards who beat him.
Six were convicted of gang assault and other charges. Two of their supervisors were sentenced to community service for helping cover up the beatdown.
Lightfoot filed a civil lawsuit, testified against his assailants and went on to win a $3.9 million settlement earlier this year.
“When I see any police officer or a person in a uniform in the street, I get nervous,” Lightfoot said at the time.
He added that his “pain still lingers.”
“I just want people to know there’s going to be consequences for officers doing these things to people, and I hope this has an impact.”
Cruz will have nothing of his complaints.
“Had he not calculated and done what he did to me, he wouldn’t be in the predicament he’s in. This was his fault,” she said of the abuse he suffered. “I’m still in turmoil.”
“There are nights that I still can’t sleep, and he’s saying he’s afraid when he sees a uniformed person?” Cruz added in disgust.
“I’m afraid when I see my own shadow. That’s to him.”
Cruz feels like the forgotten piece of the puzzle in Lightfoot’s story.
“When you read articles it says, ‘He was awaiting sentencing for a robbery.’ That’s it. That’s just a few words and the readers get sympathy for him. But I want them to have sympathy for me,” said Cruz.
The mother of two is not interested in any monetary compensation from Lightfoot or an apology.
“I want people to know what he did to me, to know the chain of events that led him there. He’s no innocent bystander,” she said. “He sentenced me to life.”