New York

Rikers Death Pushes Toll in N.Y.C. Jails to 13 This Year

Mr. Mercado’s brother, Ray Rivera, 65, said that his family could not raise enough money for his bail and was reeling from their loss.

“We didn’t want him to die in there,” Mr. Rivera said. “I’m crushed.”

More than 600 people in custody had confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of last week, city records show, up slightly from 589 the week before.

Mr. Mercado was not the only person to come to harm in the jail system this week. On Thursday, another detainee, Anthony Scott, 58, tried to hang himself in a holding pen at the Manhattan criminal courthouse. Mr. Scott was there after been arraigned on an assault charge, a court spokesman said, and had been ordered held on $15,000 cash bail or a $45,000 bond.

Guards and rescue workers cut him down and took him to Bellevue Hospital Center, where he was in critical condition on Friday, according to two people familiar with his case who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe details of a detainee’s health.

“We are outraged to learn that the city again has failed to protect our vulnerable clients in its custody, and this incident is the latest horrifying example of that ineptitude,” said Tina Luongo, attorney-in-charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at the Legal Aid Society. “Instead of receiving treatment, Mr. Scott was criminalized for his mental illness.”

The incidents this week occurred as city officials faced increasing pressure to restore order at the Rikers Island complex, where inmates have committed violent acts while wandering freely and guards have participated in beatings or failed to intervene in emergencies.

On Thursday, Richard Wilson, 57, who had worked as a correction officer since 2002, became the latest guard to face criminal charges amid the jail system’s staffing crisis. The authorities said he had sexually abused a female correction officer when he forced himself on her in a parking lot in August 2019. He was arraigned on Friday and released on his own recognizance. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

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