The family of Kyam Livingston, a 37-year-old mother of two who died in police custody this past July, is suing New York City and the NYPD, The New York Daily News reports.
Livingston was arrested on July 20 at 1:51 a.m. after getting into an argument with her 79-year-old grandmother, Theresa Johnson, while drinking a bottle of vodka. Although the altercation wasn’t violent, Livingston violated a specialized order of protection that her grandmother filed prohibiting alcohol or fighting in the home.
Police arrived to the residence about an hour after the fight had started to escort Livingston off the premises and arrest her. Officers transported Livingston first to Kings County Hospital to treat her apparent intoxication and eight hours later she was taken to the holding cell at Brooklyn central booking on Schermerhorn St. to await arraignment with 15 other women.
According to another inmate who was in the holding cell, Livingston complained of stomach cramps and diarrhea, but received no help or treatment from the officers who said that the woman was a drunk, the Daily News reports.
It was not until Livingston started to suffer from “apparent seizures” that officers acknowledged her complaints of ill health and called for emergency medical personnel, who arrived on the scene at 6:40 a.m.
Livingston was in the holding cell for 20 hours and, according to witnesses, was in pain for as many as seven hours before she was taken to Brooklyn Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival at 6:58 a.m.
On Monday, the medical examiner ruled Livingston’s death to be from “natural” causes due to an alcoholic seizure resulting from chronic alcoholism.
Livingston’s family wants answers. Her mother, Anita Neal, 61, wants to know the names of the officers who were working that night and she wants to see the surveillance video the holding cell.
“She didn’t deserve this,” Neal said during a press conference and rally on Saturday, according to Metro. “I would still be with my daughter today if she had gotten attention. They let her beg for seven hours.”
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and Councilman Jumaane Williams stood with Livingston’s family during the rally Saturday. Jeffries expressed outrage over Livingston’s care. “This was an unnecessary death and we have to get to the bottom of why this tragedy occurred,” he said, according to The Daily News.
Livingston’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Brooklyn Federal Court. The notice of claim, which was filed in advance of the formal lawsuit, alleges that in the holding cell “filled with feces and other unsanitary conditions” Livingston “succumb[ed] to her ailments…in full view of [NYPD and City] staff, personnel and other detainees,” the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports.
When asked about the lawsuit, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that he had not heard about it and a spokesperson from the city’s law department said that they have not yet received the full, formal lawsuit, Metro reports.