NEW YORK (AP) — Investigative documents obtained by The Associated Press on the 11 suicides in New York City jails over the last five years show that in at least nine cases, protocols and safeguards designed to prevent inmates from harming themselves weren’t followed. Here are brief accounts, based on the city and state documents, of some of those cases:
Died: Oct. 14, 2013
A severely depressed Moore was being held on Rikers Island for missing appointments with his parole officer when he committed suicide by hanging himself with strips of his underwear from a shower frame – his third attempt in three days behind bars.
Moore, 36, was able to kill himself despite two orders that he be constantly watched and a suicide screening form that found he was “thinking about killing himself” and was incoherent, paranoid and withdrawn.
Investigators found that after his first suicide attempt, in the Bronx courthouse lockup, he was pepper-sprayed and not taken immediately to see mental health professionals.
Died: Dec. 3, 2013
Offley, sentenced to four years weeks earlier on robbery charges, used bedsheets to string himself up from an air vent in a solitary cell Nov. 30, 2013, despite asking guards repeatedly to see mental health workers.
Investigators found that the 31-year-old single father asked a guard the morning of his suicide attempt to see a mental health worker but was told, “If you have the balls, go ahead and do it.”
City investigators later found that inmates who were trained as suicide-prevention aides and were supposed to check every 15 minutes to make sure inmates didn’t hang themselves weren’t allowed by guards to make their rounds.
Offley was pronounced dead at a hospital days later.
Died: Oct. 9, 2012
Following an Oct. 6 arrest on burglary charges, a bipolar Giannotta threatened to commit suicide and was ordered to see a psychiatrist, who found he was at risk for killing himself and should be watched around the clock and given Lithium and other medications – none of which was done, according to the documents and the order supplied by the family’s lawyer, who is suing the city.
Video shows the 41-year-old Giannotta picking up a jail-issue jumpsuit off the floor as he walked into a private bathroom that investigators later found he should never have been allowed to use. He used the jumpsuit to hang himself from a water pipe that was found to have been improperly exposed.
Investigators discovered that his psychiatric evaluation and a court order that found he was at risk for suicide weren’t entered into the electronic health record until hours after his death.
Died: May 28, 2012
Polo, a union electrician with two children, was seriously depressed when he was brought to Rikers Island on sexual misconduct charges in April 2012.
Polo, 23, was discovered shortly after midnight hanging by a sheet from a metal bed frame he stood on end to use as a scaffold – a death that prompted correction officials to order that all beds in that unit be welded to the floor.
But a year later, in the same facility, 24-year-old inmate Gilbert Pagan hanged himself the same way.
The Correction Department says all the beds have since been secured to the floor.
Polo had 23 visits and made 270 phone calls to his girlfriend, mother and sister during his time in custody. Investigators found he wasn’t properly evaluated for “what clearly was a significant risk for suicide attempt.”