Lawsuit: Rikers Guards Ignored Dying Teen as His Heart Ruptured

The rest of the world might be falling apart, but Rikers Island is still reliably horrific. A New York mother is suing Corizon, the company that provides healthcare at Rikers, New York City's largest jail complex, saying her 19-year-old son died in a cell there last year after being denied adequate medical treatment.

DNAInfo reports that Andy Henriquez, who was from Washington Heights, entered Rikers when he was just 16, after he was accused of taking part in the gang-related murder of Mohamed Jalloh, a 17-year-old from the Bronx who was hacked to death with a machete on a public street. Henriquez was arrested after he went to a nearby hospital with cuts on his hand and charged with second-degree murder and gang assault.

Henriquez was still awaiting trial three years later, on April 7, 2013, when he died in solitary confinement from complications caused by a torn aorta. The lawsuit filed by his mother, Sandra De La Cruz, says that Henriquez complained of chest pain for months. He was diagnosed eight separate times with costochondritis, inflammation and joint pain near the heart. But his mother's lawsuit says he was never given a full cardiac exam or other testing that might have shown the pain was caused by a tear in his aorta.

The night of his death, the suit says, Henriquez was given an anti-flammatory and a muscle relaxant and sent back to his cell. A few hours later, he was also given a hand cream that wasn't prescribed for him. Not surprisingly, none of that managed to cure a torn heart. He was found dead later that night.

Several men who were locked up with him reported that Henriquez frequently complained of severe pain.

"He was screaming all day and all night," one of them, Ernest Madison, said in a deposition, according to DNAInfo. In their own depositions, several Rikers guards admitted that while they were supposed to check on him every 15 minutes, the checks didn't usually happen on schedule. All of them denied hearing Henriquez screaming for help.

[Rikers emergency services personnel walk into the jail's juvenile facility. Image by Julie Jacobson via AP.]