An inmate in a New York City jail has died after being pepper-sprayed. Jamel Floyd, 35, was pepper-sprayed by correctional officers after he tried to destroy his jail cell, the New York Daily News reports.
Around 10 a.m. June 3, officers responded to Floyd’s cell after he destroyed the window in his jail cell door with a metal object. He then tried to destroy the sink and toilet in his cell as well. When officers arrived, Floyd was acting in a disorderly manner.
“Responding staff observed inmate Jamel Floyd barricaded inside his cell and breaking the cell door window with a metal object,” the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement you can see in a tweet below. “He became increasingly disruptive and potentially harmful to himself and others. Pepper spray was deployed and staff removed him from his cell.”
After being pepper-sprayed he became unresponsive. Medical staff “instantly initiated life-saving measures,” according to the statement, but Floyd ended up having to be transported to NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn. He was later pronounced dead with his cause of death being a heart attack.
Floyd has been at the Metropolitan Detention Center since October of 2019. It was unclear why he was at the MDC. Inmate records show that he had previously served sentences in state prison for burglary and tampering with evidence. MDC houses people who are awaiting trial or have not yet been charged with a crime.
“The FBI and the United States Marshals Service were notified. No staff or other inmates were injured,” the statement also read.
The incident is being investigated.
Metropolitan Detention Center Has Been Blasted Before for Its Poor Living Conditions
The federal detention center housed in Brooklyn, New York, has made headlines before due its unsafe living conditions. Last winter, almost 1,700 inmates were living in cells with no heat. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, MDC was called out for having a short supply of soap and not allowing staff to come to work with face masks and hand sanitizer by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez in a three-page letter she wrote to the Bureau of Prisons.
After Floyd’s death, Velázquez said she would be looking into the incident.
“My office will be following up, but the reality is this: change at #MDCBrooklyn is long overdue,” Velázquez tweeted. “Whether it is a loss of heat in the dead of winter, inadequate protections against the spread of COVID-19 or this most recent incident, it has become evident this institution is too often unsafe.”
Metropolitan Detention Center was also shamed by David Patton, executive director and attorney-in-chief of the nonprofit Federal Defenders of New York, after Floyd’s death.
“The MDC is a brutal place to be imprisoned at any time, but it’s truly horrific right now,” Patton told the Huffington Post. “People incarcerated there are completely locked down, shut off from their families and loved ones, and living in fear of a deadly disease. We don’t know what happened yesterday, but we need to find out.”
Metropolitan Detention Center Is on Lockdown Due to Protests in New York City
After protests erupted in New York City after Minneapolis man George Floyd died in police custody, the Bureau of Prisons ordered that all of its facilities be put on lockdown. Prisoners at MDC have been prohibited from having visits from their friends and family since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
George Floyd, 46, died May 25 after now-former officer Derek Chauvin knelt into his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, and if convicted he could serve up to 40 years in prison. The three other former officers who were present during the deadly incident, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, are also charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree murder manslaughter with culpable negligence.