The April 21 death of Samuel Harrell, an inmate with a history of erratic behavior linked to bipolar disorder, at Fishkill prison in Beacon, N.Y., has been ruled a homicide by the county medical examiner, reports the New York Times. Harrell, 30, got into a confrontation with corrections officers, was thrown to the floor and was handcuffed. As many as 20 officers — including members of a group known around the prison as the Beat Up Squad — repeatedly kicked and punched Harrell, who is black, with some of them shouting racial slurs, according to more than a dozen inmate witnesses.
In the four months since since Harrell died, state corrections officials have provided only the barest details about what happened at Fishkill, citing a continuing investigation by the state police. But an autopsy report by the Orange County medical examiner concluded that Harrell, who had cuts and bruises to the head and extremities, died of cardiac arrhythmia “following physical altercation with corrections officers.” No officers have been disciplined, but state police said evidence will be turned over to local district attorney “in the very near future.” The Times pieced together the events leading to Harrell's death from 19 affidavits and letters written by inmates and obtained through the law firm that is representing Harrell's family.