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Report: Rikers Guards Watched Suicide Attempt, Failed to Act

3 officers and a captain have been suspended
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2019 4:26 AM CST
A security fence surrounds inmate housing on the Rikers Island correctional facility in New York.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

(Newser) – Guards at one of America's most notorious jails watched for several minutes without intervening as a young inmate tried to hang himself, sources say. Insiders tell the New York Times that at least four corrections officers at the Rikers Island complex failed to act as 18-year-old Nicholas Feliciano, who was alone in an intake cell, made a noose from a garment, tied it to a pipe, and stepped off a waist-high partition. The sources say video shows that Feliciano apparently changed his mind as he began to choke and tried to get his feet back onto the partition. One source says video of the suicide attempt late last week shows a corrections officer opening the door to the cell and then closing it and walking away without trying to save Feliciano. Other videos allegedly show officers watching a live feed from the cell.

Sources tell the New York Daily News that after officers finally intervened, Feliciano was taken to a prison ward, where he was put into a medically induced coma and is now on a respirator with no brain activity. He was admitted to the jail Nov. 19 after a parole violation and was placed in the intake cell after being moved from general population following a fight, the sources say. "The claims being made here are extremely troubling and we are taking them seriously," Department of Correction Commissioner Commissioner Cynthia Brann said in a statement. "Three officers and one captain have already been suspended and if the outcome of the investigation warrants we will take appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination." (New York City lawmakers want to close Rikers Island by 2026.)

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