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16th NYC detainee dies at Rikers Island, drug overdose suspected

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 12/15/2021 Graham Rayman, New York Daily News
View of cell blocks at Rikers Island. © Todd Maisel/New York Daily News View of cell blocks at Rikers Island.

Another inmate has died at Rikers Island, raising the death toll of people in city custody this year to 16.

William Brown, 55, suffered what Department of Correction officials called unspecified “medical distress” at the Anna M. Kross Center Tuesday just before midnight.

Brown, who arrived at Rikers the same day he died, may have suffered a drug overdose, two jail sources said.

His death comes four days after another detainee died in the same jail.

Malcolm Boatwright, 28, died Friday in AMKC. Similarly, the DOC said Boatwright suffered a “medical issue,” but disclosed no further information.

Boatwright, who was facing charges of sexual abuse of a minor, was taken to Bellevue Hospital Friday where he died about 5:30 a.m.

The city Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death in both cases.

Video: U.S. drug overdoses reach 100,000, officials say (Yahoo! News)

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“I am devastated to know that another person entrusted in our care has passed away,” Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi said. “We will work diligently to determine the circumstances surrounding his death. My deepest sympathy goes out to Mr. Brown’s loved ones.”

Brown was arrested Nov. 13 on robbery, drug possession and shoplifting charges. The DOC database listed him as being held on a parole violation for a past burglary conviction.

But state prison officials said Brown was no longer on parole.

In October, detainee Anthony Scott died at New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital after hanging himself in a Manhattan criminal court holding cell.

On Dec. 6, the court-appointed federal monitor overseeing efforts to improve conditions at Rikers Island wrote that 2021 was the worst yet of six years of oversight.

“Data on uses of force, fights, stabbings, and slashings among people in custody and assaults on staff reveal that 2021 has been the most dangerous year,” the monitor wrote.

The department was burdened by staff that lacks “elementary skills,” the monitor wrote.

“This traps the department in a state of disrepair, where even the first step to improve practice is undercut by the absence of elementary skills — be it staff deployment, safety and security, or managing/supervising staff,” the 152-page report read.

A jails reform activist, Jerome Wright, slammed the city jails system.

“With just over a week before many of us will be celebrating Christmas, we now have a sixteenth family grieving the unnecessary and traumatic loss of their loved one in New York City’s jails. If the City can’t keep people in jail safe, then they shouldn’t be locking people up at all. Incarcerated people’s lives matter,” said Wright, a member of the #HALTsolitary Campaign.


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