The New York City man who was held at Rikers Island for three years as a teenager and spent more than a year in solitary confinement despite never being tried for or convicted of a crime has committed suicide, according to published reports.
The New Yorker reports that Kalief Browder, 21, hanged himself with an air conditioner at his home in the Bronx on Saturday, nearly two years after he was released from Rikers. He was discovered by his mother, who heard a loud thumping noise from his second-story bedroom and later saw him hanging from the sleeve normally occupied by the air conditioner.
He told his mother the night before his death, “Ma, I can’t take it anymore,” the New Yorker reports.
Browder was arrested in May 2010 after he was accused of stealing another teen’s backpack. His family couldn't raise the $10,000 bail to have him released, so Browder remained incarcerated.
The then-teen spent more than 1,000 days in jail, with nearly 400 days in solitary confinement. The charges against him were dropped in Nov. 2013, but Browder attempted to commit suicide several times during and following his jail stint.
A New Yorker profile on Browder published last October, along with surveillance videos of the teen being assaulted by an officer and beaten by a large group of fellow inmates, sparked outrage over practices at Rikers and led to attempts to reform the prison.
Browder’s case was “bigger than Michael Brown,” the family’s attorney, Paul Prestia told the New Yorker.
“When you go over the three years that he spent [in jail] and all the horrific details he endured, it’s unbelievable that this could happen to a teenager in New York City. He didn't get tortured in some prison camp in another country. It was right here,” he said.