A mentally ill inmate in Rikers Island, New York was found dead on New Year’s Day.
At the time of his death, Fabian Cruz was awaiting sentencing after he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his girlfriend’s daughter over a three-year period starting when she was 14 years old. He was likely going to be sentenced to five years in prison and labeled a sex offender.
A jail psychiatrist determined earlier in the week that Cruz should be placed on suicide watch after he reportedly threatened to harm himself. He was to be transferred to a mental observation unit as “a precautionary measure against acts of self-harm or accidental death.”
According to the New York Times, clinicians visited the new unit on four different occasions to give Cruz therapy, but he was never there. It was ultimately discovered that the suicide watch wasn't implemented and Cruz was never moved to the observation unit.
At approximately 4:24 p.m. on New Year’s Day, a correction officer discovered Cruz hanging by a sheet in his jail cell. The officer attempted CPR but was unsuccessful, and Cruz was pronounced dead soon after.
“Patient most likely committed suicide,” a jail report stated. “He hanged himself.”
According to an Associated Press report, the suicide watch was never put in place because a guard failed to contact her supervisor about the order. The same guard reportedly allowed Cruz to return to his cell after he objected to being transferred.
“She'll be the scapegoat for management on this, and that's unfair,” correction officers' union head Norman Seabrook said.
Cruz’s death comes after the recent deaths of other mentally ill Rikers inmates.