Footage confirms Rikers Island guard ignored diabetic inmate’s request for help before dying
Security footage shows guards at Rikers Island in New York ignoring — and even stepping over — a 45-year-old diabetic prisoner during his imprisonment, despite his request for medical attention.
The footage, which was posted by the New York Times on Tuesday, also shows the prisoner, Carlos Mercado, carrying a plastic bag with him, which he used to hold his vomit. Mercado reportedly threw up on several occasions after being arrested in August 2013 for allegedly trying to sell heroin to an undercover police officer.
The New York State Commission of Correction determined late last month that prison officials were to blame for Mercado’s death inside a holding pen, where he was placed with 14 other prisoners.
The video also corroborates the commission’s statement that Corrections Officer Eric Jacobs stepped over Mercado as he lay on the floor, ignoring his request for help. Mercado can be seen collapsing as officers opened the door to his cell at 10:45 p.m. on the night of his arrest, nearly four hours after he was taken in. He died the following morning from a lack of insulin.
The New York Daily News reported that Jacobs has been cited twice for “improper reporting of use of force” and once for insubordination during his stint at the prison. He also told investigators that Mercado “must have given some indication that he was alright,” but could not remember Mercado making such a statement.
The report said that Jacobs, along with colleagues Maurice Brown, Brian Chin and Reginald Faulkner, lied to investigators to cover up their actions and broke prison rules concerning inmate care.
Mercado’s family filed a lawsuit against the city last year. Their attorney, David Rankin, is reportedly negotiating a settlement in the matter. Think Progress noted that the city paid a $17.5 million settlement to the family of another diabetic inmate, Jose Vargas, after he suffered brain damage stemming from a lack of insulin.
Watch the video, as posted by the Times, below.