New footage outside the Rikers Island jail cell in New York City where transgender woman Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polanco died last June reveals that guards tried to wake her for approximately an hour and a half before calling for help.
Her family says the 10 hours of footage taken from a surveillance camera inside the restrictive housing unit where Polanco’s cell was located shows that Rikers staff failed to provide her with medical care that could have saved her life.
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“The video is the last piece of the puzzle,” David Shanies, an attorney for Polanco’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of New York and several Rikers staffers, told NBC News. “It's the last bit of indifference to her life that we saw and recklessness to a person who obviously needed help.”
Polanco, 27, died in solitary confinement on June 7 of last year after an epileptic seizure, according to a medical examiner’s report.
Last week, the New York City Department of Investigation, tasked with overseeing city employees and contractors, and the Bronx District Attorney's Office concluded that staff members at Rikers Island’s Rose M. Singer Center were not criminally responsible for Polanco’s death. That same report found that staff members at the women’s facility left Polanco alone for up to 47 minutes around the time of her death, a violation of corrections policy requiring checks on prisoners in solitary confinement every 15 minutes. The jail staffers maintain they thought Polanco was asleep in the hours before her cell was finally opened and she was found unresponsive.
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