Teen Died After Rikers Guards Ignored Screams: Suit

Andy Henriquez's family is suing Corizon for unspecified damages

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 21, 2014 2:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – A new lawsuit claims a teen inmate at Rikers Island died in solitary confinement while begging for medical attention. The family of Andy Henriquez says he complained of chest pain for seven months before he was found dead of a ruptured aorta last April at 19. "He used to say 'I don’t feel right, my chest hurts, I feel like I can't breathe,'" another inmate said in a deposition; a second inmate said that Henriquez "was screaming all day and all night" before his death. Henriquez's mom, Sandra De la Cruz, is now suing Corizon, the company that provides health care to the inmates, telling DNAInfo New York, "They should have taken him to the hospital." Instead, Henriquez was given hand cream—prescribed to an incorrect name—plus an anti-inflammatory drug and a muscle relaxant, court documents show.

Henriquez, who had been in the jail for three years awaiting trial for murder and gang assault, was diagnosed with joint pain near his heart at least eight times over seven months. Yet the Rikers clinic never ordered a cardiac exam or follow-up testing that might have uncovered Henriquez's torn artery—"a gross departure from proper medical standards," an expert explains in documents from the suit. The family's lawyer adds, per the New York Daily News, that Rikers' conditions "are deplorable." Meanwhile, corrections officers admit checks that were supposed to be scheduled every 15 minutes were not completed correctly on the day of Henriquez's death. They say they heard no cries for help, though one of his fellow inmates heard differently. "They said, 'Look, we took you yesterday. The doctor said you're fine,'" he testified. That night, Henriquez died. (Another Rikers inmate died following a week alone in his cell.)

FILE- This June 20, 2014 file photo shows the Rikers Island jail with the New York skyline in the background.
FILE- This June 20, 2014 file photo shows the Rikers Island jail with the New York skyline in the background.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
FILE - In this May 17, 2011, file photo, a bus drives past the entrance to the Rikers Island Correctional facility in New York.
FILE - In this May 17, 2011, file photo, a bus drives past the entrance to the Rikers Island Correctional facility in New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
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