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Old 06-27-2020, 08:52 AM
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Default Four Rikers guards suspended in death of transgender inmate Layleen Polanco

https://nypost.com/2020/06/26/rikers...gender-inmate/

Four Rikers guards suspended in death of transgender inmate Layleen Polanco
By Nolan Hicks
June 26, 2020 | 6:47pm | Updated


Layleen Polanco


The Department of Correction is suspending three jail guards and a captain, and bringing charges against 13 other staffers, for their roles in the high-profile death of Layleen Polanco, a 27-year-old transgender inmate on Rikers Island.

The disciplinary action comes more than a year after Polanco died in an isolation cell from an epileptic seizure and days after the city Department of Investigation and Bronx District Attorney ended their joint investigation, declining to press criminal charges against the officers involved.

“The death of Layleen Polanco was an incredibly painful moment for our city ,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “What happened to Layleen was absolutely unacceptable and it is critical that there is accountability.”

City Hall said the action was the result of an internal DOC probe into the case, but provided few other details about the probe or its conclusions in the brief three-paragraph statement released late Friday.

“We are committed to ensuring that all of our facilities are safe and humane,” said DOC Commissioner Cynthia Brann.

“Even one death in our custody is one too many and this swift and fair determination on internal discipline makes clear that the safety and well-being of people in our custody remains our top priority.”

All told, 17 officers are facing disciplinary charges linked to Polanco’s death, including failure to conduct required cell checks and making fraudulent log entries, a person familiar with the matter said.

City Hall’s statement did not disclose if the DOC is moving to fire the four officers suspended without pay, nor did it say how long those suspensions would last.

However, the DOI/Bronx probe did reveal that jailers failed to perform at least two required wellness checks on Polanco, leaving her cell un-inspected for 47 minutes despite requirements they stop by every 15 minutes.

Polanco suffered from epilepsy and was locked up in solitary confinement when she died on June 7, 2019, for allegedly assaulting other prisoners on three separate occasions, according to a memo released by DOI.

A detailed timeline included in the document shows Officers Talaya Gales and Tykisha Williams last checked on Polanco at 1:40 pm. Williams would not circle back again until 2:27 pm, according to security camera footage the agency reviewed.

But it wasn’t until Gales checked the cell once more at 2:41 pm that authorities appeared to discover something was horribly wrong.

Williams returned to the cell at 2:43 pm and by 2:47 pm, the pair had opened Polanco’s cell and summoned Captain Kimberly McZick.

The officers wrote in their incident reports that Williams began to perform CPR on Polanco and when that didn’t work, McZick left to get a defibrillator.

Security footage shows her returning with the device at 2:50 pm. The jail’s medical staff arrived by 2:55 p.m., though EMS would take nearly another half hour to appear, according to the DOI review of the tape.

“These suspensions represent an egregious abuse of power that is unprecedented,” said Corrections Officers Benevolent Association president Elias Husamudeen, labeling the disciplinary charges as “a disgrace!”

“We will vigorously fight these suspensions and refuse to allow this city to demonize Correction Officers,” he added.
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