Federal Civil-Rights Charge Against NYC Correction Officer In Inmate Death


A New York City correction officer was charged with deliberately ignoring the medical needs of a prisoner who died hours after swallowing a toxic cleaning agent in 2012, the Wall Street Journal reports. Terrence Pendergrass, 49, was arrested by FBI agents on a charge of deprivation of rights under color of law for ignoring inmate Jason Echevarria's need for medical help at the city’s Rikers Island jail.

“Jason Echevarria should not have died,” said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “Terrence Pendergrass abused his power as a Rikers Island captain in charge of a vulnerable population of inmates with mental health issues by denying Echevarria access to medical care despite his obvious and urgent medical need for it.” Echevarria, 25, was being held on a burglary charge in a unit for prisoners with mental health issues who violated jail rules. A new correction officer gave him a powerful disinfectant/detergent known as a “soap ball” that can be life threatening if swallowed to clean his cell after a sewage backup.

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