What to Know
- Officials say a transgender woman who was found dead in a New York City jail died of natural causes due to an epileptic seizure
- 27-year-old Layleen Polanco was found unresponsive in her Rikers Island cell in June
- "Layleen never should have been left alone in a cell to die," her family's lawyer said in an interview
Officials say a transgender woman who was found dead in a New York City jail died of natural causes due to a seizure related to epilepsy.
A jail officer found 27-year-old Layleen Polanco unresponsive in her Rikers Island cell in June. She had been in custody since mid-April, unable to post $500 bail after an assault arrest.
The medical examiner said Tuesday the cause of death was sudden unexplained death in epilepsy.
Polanco was in a restrictive housing unit, meaning she was required to spend the majority of her day in her cell, with up to seven hours outside it.
An attorney at The Legal Aid Society released a statement saying her death "further underscores the dangers of solitary confinement, which isolates already medically fragile people from observation and care."
David Shanies, an attorney for Polanco's mother and sister, said last month that jail officials were aware of Polanco's health problems and that she had been hospitalized between May 16 and May 25.
"Layleen never should have been left alone in a cell to die," he said in an interview.