Over a dozen New York City correction officers face disciplinary action over the death of a trans woman in solitary confinement at Rikers Island
- Four officers with the
New York City Department of Correctionhave been suspended without pay after a report detailed their actions leading up to the death of a trans woman in Rikers Island last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week. Layleen Cubilette-Polancodied in solitary confinement on June 7, 2019, after suffering epileptic seizures in her cell in solitary confinement, according to a report released on June 23 by the New York City Board of Correction.
- Officers did not check on Cubilette-Polanco as required and waited 90 minutes before calling for medical help after she was found unresponsive on her ninth day in solitary confinement, surveillance video showed.
- Thirteen other officers will face some sort of disciplinary action, though the nature of those consequences remains unclear.
Seventeen officers with the
Four have been suspended without pay, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week, but it remains unclear what consequences the other 13 officers will face. A spokesperson for the Department of Correction told Insider on Sunday it would be sharing "additional information in the coming days."On June 7, 2019, 27-year-old Cubilette-Polanco died on her ninth day in solitary confinement at Rikers. Cubilette-Polanco was being held at the New York jail because she was unable to pay a $500 bail after she was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge in April and was held on unrelated prostitution charges, according to a report released on June 23 by the New York City Board of Correction.Advertisement
"The death of Layleen Polanco was an incredibly painful moment for our city," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement on Friday. "What happened to Layleen was absolutely unacceptable and it is critical that there is accountability."
The report by the New York City Board of Correction, the agency that oversees city jails, found that the process in which the jail determines if a medical reason prevents a person from being placed in solitary confinement is "insufficient, inconsistent, and potentially susceptible to undue pressure from DOC."Cubilette-Polanco was held in "restrictive housing" in the jail for her involvement in an alleged altercation, according to the report. While in her jail cell, she suffered epileptic seizures that resulted in her June 7 death. At least one doctor had objected to Cubilette-Polanco's placement in solitary confinement due to her history of epileptic seizures, according to NBC News.
Video footage from Rikers, according to multiple reports, found that officers waited 90 minutes before they called for medical attention after Cubilette-Polanco was found unresponsive. The Board of Correction said in a report last week that corrections officers' actions were "inadequate" and they did not check on Cubilette-Polanco every 15 minutes as is required.Instead, officers left Polanco unchecked for periods of 57, 47, and 41 minutes "during the period between when she was last confirmed alive and when the medical emergency was declared," according to the report. "The video is the last piece of the puzzle," attorney David Shanies, who represents Cubilette-Polanco's family in a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of New York and Rikers staffers, told NBC News. "It's the last bit of indifference to her life that we saw and recklessness to a person who obviously needed help."Advertisement
On June 6, the office of Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark announced that Cubilette-Polanco's death did not necessitate criminal charges following a six-month investigation into her death, according to New York Daily News.
"The purview of this Office is not to determine whether it was a wrong decision to place Ms. Polanco into Punitive Segregation while she was suffering from a documented seizure disorder; the purview of this Office is to determine whether that decision rose to the level of criminal behavior," the Bronx DA's office wrote.It added: "After an in-depth investigation by my Public Integrity Bureau, we have concluded that we would be unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any individual committed any
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