In early June, Kalief Browder, the Bronx native who battled mental health issues after spending three violent years in jail at Rikers Island without ever being convicted of a crime, committed suicide. His family, who believe Browder would still be alive had he not been subjected to “systemic and agonizing mental and physical abuse tantamount to torture” by officers employed by the NYC Department of Corrections, are suing the city of New York for $20 million.
Yesterday, Browder’s parents, Venida and Everett, submitted to the city comptroller’s office documents which specified the excessive and unjustified brutality their son faced during his time on Rikers and the multiple suicide attempts he made after his release.
According to the Huffington Post, the Browders believe the “city’s treatment of [Kalief] after his release from Rikers was ‘less than adequate and insufficient to treat his episodes and bouts with paranoia, depression, PTSD, and other aliments.’” From the Post:
The Browders’ pending wrongful death lawsuit — which names the New York City Department of Correction, the Bronx district attorney’s office, the NYPD and various city health agencies as defendants — seeks $20 million in damages for the city’s “willful, malicious, careless and negligent” actions. It also accuses the city of malicious prosecution, denying Browder of his constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial, and of “inhumanely and cruelly punishing” Browder by placing him in solitary confinement.
Browder was arrested in 2010, just days before his 17th birthday, for allegedly stealing a backpack. While on Rikers, Browder maintained his innocence—even when he was offered a deal by the Bronx district attorney to plead guilty, whereupon he’d be sentenced to time served. He was released in May 2013, after the Bronx DA’s office decided to drop all charges against him. Browder had spent three years on Rikers without ever being convicted of a crime.
On June 6, 2015, Browder wrapped an air-conditioning cord around his neck and pushed himself from the second story of his mother’s Bronx home. He was 22.