January 23, 2022

Household Blames ‘Disabled’ Rikers Inmate Christopher Cruz’s Loss of life on Guards’ ‘Abuse’

4 min read


The household of a New York Metropolis man who died final yr whereas being held at Rikers Island after being unable to put up $1,000 bail filed a lawsuit on Monday, blaming the city for killing the 27-year-old through its own negligence.

At roughly 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 9, 2020, Christopher M. Cruz was found unresponsive in his cell at Rikers’ Anna M. Kross Center, a sprawling facility for male pre-trial detainees. He was pronounced lifeless 45 minutes later.

In line with a duplicate of the swimsuit obtained by The Day by day Beast, Cruz suffered from bronchial asthma and schizophrenia. Nonetheless, Rikers workers held Cruz in “restrictive housing” and refused to offer Cruz “with an affordable lodging for his incapacity,” which led on to his demise, alleges the submitting, which doesn’t specify exactly how Cruz died.

As of October, Cruz’s family members mentioned they nonetheless didn’t have any solutions.

“Mr. Cruz, like too a lot of our shoppers, couldn’t afford to pay bail, and, thus, he spent his remaining days confined to a cage,” the Authorized Help Society said in a statement at the time of Cruz’s death. “That is an all-too-common tragedy, the inevitable product of an unjust money bail system that ought to outrage all New Yorkers… The ignorance his household has acquired thus removed from the Metropolis about his premature demise is disturbing and solely serves to engender suspicion.”

A DOC spokesperson declined to offer The Day by day Beast with additional details about the circumstances surrounding Cruz’s demise.

“We have now no publicly accessible data as to why this particular person was held,” DOC spokesman Patrick Rocchio mentioned in an e mail.

However NYC Division of Correction (DOC) Deputy Commissioner for Public Data Patrick Gallahue pushed again on one side of the swimsuit, telling The Day by day Beast that the Anna M. Kross Heart, the place the lawsuit says Cruz was being held, doesn’t have restrictive housing.

In a separate assertion to The Day by day Beast, Nick Paolucci, a spokesman for the NYC Regulation Division, mentioned, “The demise of any individual in DOC custody is tragic. We’ll overview the authorized case.”

The Cruz household’s lawyer, Clifford Ryan Tucker, informed The Day by day Beast that he was not at liberty to debate extra particulars on the matter. Members of the Cruz household had been unable to be reached for touch upon Monday.

Not less than 15 inmates died while locked up at Rikers throughout 2021. Charges of suicide and self-harm have skyrocketed lately, reaching their highest levels in years. On the similar time, staffing shortages have created situations some have called a humanitarian crisis. The Division of Correction’s oversight board has criticized Rikers officers for violating minimum standards on points resembling hygiene and the size of time new detainees are saved in holding areas.

The lawsuit over Cruz’s demise, which was filed in Bronx County Supreme Courtroom, claims Cruz “had made complaints of bronchial asthma and schizophrenia” because the day he was dropped at Rikers. Cruz was prescribed remedy for each situations, in accordance with the swimsuit.

“Inmates in restricted housing, typically together with these with severe bodily and psychological well being points, are remoted of their cells for almost all their waking hours,” the submitting continues, including that Cruz was “commonly…left alone in a cell for a lot of hours at a time.” Ten correctional officers at Rikers, recognized within the lawsuit as “John Does 1-10,” walked previous Cruz’s cell “and didn’t confirm that [he] was alive.”

“Had he been fairly accommodated; he would have been detained in a readily observable cell and could be alive,” it states.

When Cruz was lastly taken to see a physician, officers had been “negligent, careless and reckless in utilizing extreme power,” the lawsuit says. Cruz was handcuffed and bodily restrained earlier than and through medical remedy, all whereas jail workers ought to have recognized that “utilizing such extreme power, handcuffs, bodily restraints and/or bodily holds, and solitary confinement, on [Cruz] would exacerbate, speed up and activate the medical accidents [Cruz] was affected by on the time of the incident.”

The NYC Division of Correction doesn’t correctly practice its officers to deal with inmates with bodily and psychological disabilities, and has a “lengthy historical past [of] failing to adjust to [the] Individuals with Disabilities Act,” the swimsuit claims.

It cites a December 2014 report the Authorized Help Society submitted to the town “offering intensive details about the risks going through inmates confined in restricted or segregation housing, together with the heightened risks going through inmates with severe medical and/or psychiatric issues. No ample remedial motion has been put in place to deal with and proper the risks confronted by inmates with severe psychological sicknesses and severe medical issues in unsupervised confinement.”

Taken as an entire, the scenario signifies “a aware indifference to the clear danger of significant harm and demise to [Cruz] that shocks the conscience,” the swimsuit continues.

The town’s “actions had been so surprising and outrageous that they exceeded all cheap bounds of decency; actions brought on [Cruz] to undergo extreme emotional misery in addition to severe bodily accidents,” it concludes. “[Cruz] was additionally compelled to endure bodily intimidation and abuse; as a direct and foreseeable results of these actions, [Cruz] feared for his bodily security; as a direct and foreseeable results of these actions, [Cruz] suffered till the second of his demise extreme emotional misery and precise damages in an quantity to be decided at trial.”

Incoming New York Metropolis Mayor Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain, told the NYC Council last week that he wouldn’t acquiesce to their calls for to finish solitary confinement within the metropolis’s jails.

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