At least four New York City correction officers failed to act for seven minutes as an 18-year-old detainee tried to hang himself at the Rikers Island jail complex, watching the suicide attempt before intervening, the New York Times reports. The officers have been suspended while the city’s Department of Investigation conducts an inquiry. The inmate was put into a medically induced coma on Tuesday. The suicide attempt was captured on a video feed that the officers are expected to monitor periodically. The officers’ actions were recorded by a separate camera.
Inmate Nicholas Feliciano was in an empty holding pen in plain view of a central guard desk in the jail’s intake area, where officers can also monitor activity in cells via video feeds. On the video, one officer can be seen going to the pen where Feliciano was hanging, opening the door, closing the door without entering and walking away. Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann said, “The claims being made here are extremely troubling,” and added that officers could face “disciplinary action up to and including termination.” The episode is the latest in the troubled history of the jail complex, which has long been plagued by violence, abuse, neglect and mismanagement at levels that have made it among the most notorious correctional facilities in the nation.