The family of a man who died while in custody at New York City’s infamous Rikers Island jail plans to file a $25 million lawsuit against the city following a string of inmate deaths inside the correctional facility in recent years.
The July 10 death of Elijah Muhammad, 31, has prompted the firing of a correction officer and louder calls to close down the jail. Muhammad had been held at the George R. Vierno Center, a high-security jail on Rikers Island, since June on an assault charge.
He was the tenth inmate to die this year, The New York Times reported.”Incarceration at a Rikers Island Jail should not be a death sentence,” Sanford Rubenstein, an attorney for Muhammad’s family, said in a statement attached to a notice of claim that a lawsuit is forthcoming. “The family of Elijah Muhammad will fully cooperate with the investigation of his wrongful death by the New York City Department of Investigation.”The lawsuit will reportedly allege negligent supervision and security at the jail complex. Days before his death, Muhammad had been held for 32 hours in solitary confinement, a period that exceeds the New York City Department of Corrections guideline of six hours, the claim said.
He appeared, disoriented, barely able to walk and needed medical attention, it said.
“However, (the) decedent was Ieft to die in his cell and remained deceased in his cell for a length of time that his body began to show signs of rigor mortis,” the claim said.
Louis Molina, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, has resisted calls for a federal takeover of the jail amid several scandals linked to the complex.
NEW YORK — After decades in prison, three men were cleared Friday in one of the most horrifying crimes of New York’s violent 1990s — the killing of a clerk who was set on fire in a subway toll booth.
A judge dismissed the murder convictions of Vincent Ellerbe, James Irons and Thomas Malik after Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez cited “serious problems with the evidence on which these convictions are based.” He pointed to doubts about the men’s confessions and problems with witness identifications.
The three confessed to and were convicted of murdering token seller Harry Kaufman in 1995. The case resounded from New York to Washington to Hollywood, after parallels were drawn between the deadly arson and a scene in the movie “Money Train.””The findings of an exhaustive, years-long reinvestigation of this case leave us unable to stand by the convictions,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a release. He cited “serious problems with the evidence on which these convictions are based” and acknowledged “the harm done to these men by this failure of our system.”
The confessions conflicted with evidence at the scene and with each other, and witness identifications were problematic, prosecutors say. Some of the men have long said they were coerced into falsely confessing in the case, which had a lead detective who later was repeatedly accused of forcing confessions and framing suspects.Ellerbe, 44, was paroled in 2020, but Malik and Irons, both 45, have remained in prison.
Malik was still getting his head around the long-awaited news Friday morning that prosecutors were reconsidering the case, lawyer Ronald Kuby said.
“Yesterday was the first day that he actually allowed himself to believe that he’s going to be free,” said Kuby, who also represents Ellerbe and said the latter is “extraordinarily happy” to see his conviction thrown out.