More Than a Half-dozen Officers Stood and Watched for 8 Minutes as a Teen Hung Himself

Free Thought Project – by Matt Agorist

New York, NY — Eight minutes — this is the amount of time multiple officers and a captain stood by and watched as 18-year-old Nicholas Feliciano wrapped a homemade noose around his neck and proceeded to hang himself in a jail cell. More than a half dozen officers and jail staff did nothing as he hung from his neck, flailed around before going completely limp. 

Only after watching the 18-year-old go still and his lifeless body hang limp in the jail cell did anyone move to cut him down. On Nov. 27, 2019, the rope was cut and Feliciano’s limp body slammed to the floor.

According to court documents, Feliciano used a sweater to try to hang himself from a U-shaped piece of metal in the ceiling above the toilet. The ceiling fixture was supposed to have been removed after another detainee had used it to attempt suicide six days earlier. It was not.

For seven minutes and 51 seconds, seven correction officers, a captain and two paramedics walked by or watched on from a guard station as Feliciano hung himself, and according to the surveillance footage, not a single one of them acted.

For three years as Feliciano remained hospitalized with severe brain damage, requiring round-the-clock care, not a single one of the officers faced charges, and, in fact, they all continued to collect their paychecks from the New York City Department of Corrections.

Last week, however, that changed and Darcel D. Clark, the Bronx district attorney who has jurisdiction over Rikers Island, filed felony charges against four of the officers involved.

The NY Times reports:

A spokeswoman for the Bronx district attorney’s office said that the cases against the guards took nearly three years to prosecute because the city Department of Investigation brought them first to federal prosecutors before taking them to Ms. Clark’s office.

Charged with official misconduct and reckless endangerment on Monday were the correction captain, Terry Henry, 37, and Officers Kenneth Hood, 35, Daniel Fullerton, 27, and Mark Wilson, 46. All four men pleaded not guilty and were released without bail. Their lawyers declined to comment.

Mr. Feliciano’s family welcomed the charges against the officers on Monday but said they were too slow in coming.

“These officers should have been indicted a long time ago instead of still working at Rikers Island while Nicholas was still in the hospital trying to live,” Feliciano’s grandmother, Madeline Feliciano, said in an interview. “It hurts. It’s very painful. It is devastating to see him the way he is because of somebody’s negligence.”

Despite the fact that four other officers were present and watching Feliciano hang himself, none of them have been charged or fired and all but one is still working at Rikers.

Naturally, the officer’s union president is upset that their corrections officers would be charged for something as “harmless” as watching a teenager string himself up to commit suicide and not acting on it.

Benny Boscio, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, called the charges “further evidence that this case is being driven more by politics than by facts.”

Yet it was a fact that these officers did nothing as a teenager hanged himself in front of them. It is also a fact that Feliciano had a history of mental illness and suicide attempts and this was well documented at the time. Nevertheless, jail staff was completely careless when Feliciano was taken in from a parole violation charge for a previous stint in juvenile detention and this resulted in ruinous injuries.

For the rest of his life, as the Times points out, Feliciano will remain at Bellevue’s brain injury unit, where he uses a walker to get around. He cannot eat by himself or brush his teeth or get dressed without help.

“It’s so frustrating to see literally the same neglect kill and catastrophically injure person after person,” Feliciano’s lawyer, David B. Rankin said, adding: “The idea it has taken this long with this much evidence is an issue.”

An issue indeed.

Free Thought Project

One thought on “More Than a Half-dozen Officers Stood and Watched for 8 Minutes as a Teen Hung Himself

  1. Some quotes I found on a police state:

    “The first step toward change is the understanding that things can be different. This is my principal recommendation, then: we must recognize the possibility of a world without police.”
    — Kristian Williams, Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America

    “People misunderstand what a police state is. It isn’t a country where the police strut around in jackboots; it’s a country where the police can do anything they like. Similarly, a security state is one in which the security establishment can do anything it likes.”
    — John Lanchester

    “The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.”
    — C.S. Lewis

    “I know L.A. well, but it’s a police state.”
    — Morrissey

    “With each and every mistake, another village idiot is shamed into nothingness and mindlessly shut down by the herd. This is a superficial peace made by force and by fear, one in which there is no freedom to breathe.”
    — Chris Jami

    “When the poor man loose control of the best in himself… it ain’t his fault at all, it is the fault of people who go ’round making poppits of other poor people.”
    — George Lamming
    (Aside: What’s a poppit? Could he have meant puppet?)

    “The word could be translated in a number of ways. It could mean self-reliance, autonomy, independence, or responsibility—all the things we weren’t allowed to have. According to the Juche ‘philosophy,’ ‘human beings are the masters of the world, so they get to decide everything.’ It suggested we could reorganize the world, hew out a career for ourselves, and be the masters of our destiny. This was laughable, of course, but that’s always the way with totalitarian regimes. Language gets turned on its head. Serfdom is freedom. Repression is liberation. A police state is a democratic republic. And we were ‘the masters of our destiny.’ And if we begged to differ, we were dead.”
    — Masaji Ishikawa, North Korea defector

    “Let us concentrate on the question of why the state (meaning, here, the civil authorities) would let the police claim the means of violence as their own. Police brutality does not just happen; it is allowed to happen. It is tolerated by the police themselves, those on the street and those in command. It is tolerated by prosecutors, who seldom bring charges against violent cops, and by juries, who rarely convict. It is tolerated by the civil authorities, the mayors, and the city councils, who do not use their influence to challenge police abuses. But why? The answer is simple: police brutality is tolerated because it is what people with power want.”
    — Kristian Williams, Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America

    “Even where the law is contrary to the demands of powerful corporations, the police often act not from principle or legal obligation, but according to the needs of the ruling class.”
    — Kristian Williams, Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America —

    .

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