A New York City jail inmate died after falling in his cell while being restrained by correction officers and medical staff, authorities announced Thursday, the latest in a slew of deadly incidents at the city’s jail system in the past year.
“When we have incidents like this, it underscores our need to work better together and learn from what has happened,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Thursday afternoon press conference. “Each time we see a tragic death or another incident, it underscores that we need to figure out what went wrong.”
The incident on Wednesday occurred at the Rikers Island jail complex in the Bronx, and a Correction Department supervisor was placed on desk duty and another suspended without pay after video obtained by the Daily News shows inmates forced up against a wall with their hands behind their backs. The inmate, David Ranta, 42, was found unresponsive in his cell on Wednesday and pronounced dead on the scene.
“According to the medical examiner, the cause of death was soft tissue trauma due to inmate restraint which occurred during the restraint,” the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said in a statement.
The incident was the second death in the past two weeks that involved corrections officers and inmates. On Saturday, a 22-year-old inmate and repeat offender was electrocuted after he was found unresponsive in his cell. Officers had put the inmate in a “lockdown chair” to use as a restraint, but investigators believe he became alarmed and unresponsive.
“It is very important to get all the pieces of the puzzle so we understand the exact cause of death,” Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte said Thursday. “Our focus is on ensuring that a terrible tragedy like this never happens again.”
Over the past year, multiple inmates have died from natural causes, medical conditions and suicide. The total number of inmate deaths has also increased in the past year from 52 to 63.