Inmate awaiting trial for murder and robbery dies in custody at Rikers Island

Another person died in custody at Rikers Island.

Emanuel Sullivan, 20, was discovered unconscious on his bed Saturday and pronounced dead around 4:25 p.m., the Department of Corrections said in a statement. Sullivan was the sixth person to die in police custody this year and the 22nd since January a year ago.

Corrections Department Commissioner Louis Molina said the cause of death has not yet been determined. All deaths in custody are investigated by the state attorney general’s office and the city’s investigative department.

Earlier this month, a state judge found the Department of Correction in contempt of court, saying Rikers staff failed to provide inmates with basic medical care. State Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Taylor gave the city 30 days to show improvement.

The inmate housing area where Sullivan stayed had been staffed and visits were conducted throughout the day Saturday, according to the commissioner.

“Mr. Sullivan’s passing fills our hearts with grief, as we understand that everyone in our care is someone’s loved one,” Molina said. “Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to his family and to his loved ones during this difficult time.

Sullivan had been jailed since February 8. He was awaiting trial for second-degree murder and first-degree robbery, in the shooting death of Tamar Shaarawy during a home invasion in the Greenridge section of Staten Island in December.

Victor Pale, co-director of the #HALTsolitary campaign, which advocates for those incarcerated, called the news of Sullivan’s death heartbreaking.

“We don’t need more committees, more task forces, or more long overdue plans to remedy the conditions,” Pale said in a statement. He called on elected officials “to make decisions that will keep those incarcerated and staff alive, safe and healthy”.

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