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Family of Jamel Floyd Holds Funeral Today, and Calls for Justice, One Month After His Untimely Death in Brooklyn Federal Prison

On June 3, 2020, Jamel Floyd’s life was tragically cut short while he was a prisoner in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. He was only 35 years old.

Mr. Floyd had been looking forward to release from prison in just a few months, and to the start of a whole new chapter in his life.

Mr. Floyd died after Federal Bureau of Prisons correction officers pepper-sprayed him while he was locked in his prison cell, and then subjected him to excessive force while removing him from his cell. Witnesses report that officers blasted so much pepper spray into Mr. Floyd’s cell that the entire unit was impacted, with other people having to place wet towels under their own cell doors so they could breathe. After Mr. Floyd lost consciousness, officers strapped his unresponsive body to a restraint chair and removed him from MDC’s special housing unit.

Mr. Floyd was never seen alive again.

Today, Mr. Floyd’s family and friends—his mother, father, brother, fiancé, and extended family—are gathering for his funeral in Hempstead, New York, where they will commemorate his life. Before June 3rd, they were eagerly planning for Mr. Floyd’s parole appearance and possible release from prison in the fall.

Mr. Floyd’s brother, Ramel Floyd, was hoping to start a new moving truck business with his brother later this year. Just days before Jamel Floyd’s death, Ramel spoke with his brother about their plans. “Jamel was super intelligent, he was a jailhouse lawyer and was also studying while he was in prison to get the licenses he needed for our new business,” Ramel says. “Everything was lining up for the next part of my brother’s life—he was so close to getting out and then they took him away from us.”

Mr. Floyd’s mother, Donna Mays, was counting down the weeks until Mr. Floyd’s parole date. Ms. Mays could not wait to see Mr. Floyd reunited with his entire family in Hempstead later this year. “I am getting married soon and Jamel was supposed to walk me down the aisle,” Ms. Mays says. “Now, because of what they did to my son, I am planning his funeral instead.”

The MDC and Federal Bureau of Prisons must respond to calls for justice in the wake of Jamel Floyd’s untimely death, from his family, elected officials, and the millions of people who have taken to the streets to protest the deaths of Black people at the hands of law enforcement. The BOP must act swiftly to release Mr. Floyd’s medical and institutional records to his family without further delay, including the video taken of the use of force against him, and allow a prompt and impartial investigation into Mr. Floyd’s death.

“The violent and senseless death of Jamel Floyd, yet another young Black man who died in the custody of law enforcement—this time in a federal jail facility—is disturbing,” said Katherine Rosenfeld, one of the Floyd and Mays family’s attorneys. “This heartbroken family deserves truthful answers about what happened to Jamel Floyd.”

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez stated: “Time and again, MDC has exhibited lack of accountability and allowed conditions that endanger the lives of those detained there. The recent death of Jamel Floyd fits this pattern and initial review suggests it could have been prevented. I will continue pressing the Department of Justice for answers and work to hold MDC accountable. We need a complete and swift investigation.”

Congressman Jerry Nadler described initial reports of Mr. Floyd’s death as “horrifying” and immediately called for a Congressional investigation of Mr. Floyd’s death.

Jabari Brisport, candidate for New York State Senate District 25, which includes MDC, stated: “Jamel should still be with us today, but the people responsible for his caretaking gave him an unlawful death sentence at MDC. As a person suffering from asthma, he managed to avoid COVID-19, only to be tragically murdered by correction officers using pepper spray. I stand in solidarity with the Floyd family, and would like to amplify their calls for the release of medical records, and for a prompt investigation into his death.”

Mr. Floyd’s family wishes to express their gratitude to the thousands of people who have supported their campaign for #JusticeforJamel, attended the vigils outside the MDC, and contributed to Jamel’s funeral expenses. They also thank the many people confined in the MDC who have come forward to tell the truth about what happened to Jamel.

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ECBA Represents Jamel Floyd’s Family in Investigation Into Mr. Floyd’s Senseless Death at the MDC

ECBA is representing Donna Mays, the mother of Jamel Floyd, and their family, in an investigation into the tragic, untimely death of Mr. Floyd, who died on June 3, 2020 while incarcerated at the Metropolitan Detention Center (“MDC”) in Brooklyn, a prison operated by the United States Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”).  Mr. Floyd, a 35-year old Black man, was eligible for parole in only three months, and had planned to rejoin his family in Hempstead, Long Island.  According to initial reports, on June 3, Mr. Floyd—who was asthmatic—was pepper sprayed by correction officers while he was locked in his cell, subjected to force, placed in restraints, and removed from his cell, at which point he was found to be unresponsive.  He was then taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.  The DOJ and FBI are both investigating Mr. Floyd’s death.

Mr. Floyd’s family has led the call for justice and accountability at protests outside the MDC, demanding answers about the violence and force that caused Jamel’s death.  Mr. Floyd’s death has sparked outrage throughout New York City and beyond as millions of individuals continue to protest the deaths of African American people resulting excessive force at the hands of law enforcement officers.

Read coverage of Mr. Floyd’s death in the New York Times, New York Daily News, and Newsweek.

Information regarding ECBA’s current class action litigation challenging conditions of confinement at MDC can be found here.

ECBA Attorneys Katherine Rosenfeld, Earl S. Ward, and Nick Bourland represent Ms. Mays and the family of Jamel Floyd.

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Federal Court Permits Prison Death Case to Go Forward

A judge in the Western District of Oklahoma rejected a motion to dismiss filed by state prison officials seeking to end a lawsuit by the family of a 21 year-old young man who died in prison from untreated appendicitis. The court held that Joshua England’s family could continue its claim that prison officials violated Joshua’s Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by ignoring his repeated, anguished pleas for medical help over the course of days, before he died alone on the floor of his prison cell. The court also permitted all of the state law claims to go forward. And the court refused to dismiss the senior official defendants – the former head of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and the warden of the prison – from the case. Now Joshua’s family can move forward with seeking accountability for Joshua’s untimely, entirely preventable death of a common and treatable illness.

ECBA attorneys Katherine Rosenfeld and Ali Frick represent Joshua’s family, along with co-counsel Paul DeMuro and Henry A. “Hank” Meyer, III.

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ECBA Files Federal Civil Rights Suit Against Prison Officials for Abusive Conditions Leading to a 22-Year-Old Man’s Suicide

On February 24, 2020, ECBA filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Darlene McDay and Temple McDay, the mother and grandmother of Dante Taylor, a 22-year-old man who committed suicide in Wende Correctional Facility on October 7, 2017.   As detailed in the complaint, Mr. Taylor—who had a history of depression and suicide attempts—was confined in isolation for long stretches at Wende, and providers and staff ignored many glaring risk factors for his suicide in the months leading up to his death.  Mr. Taylor was brutally beaten by Wende correction officers the night before he died, thrown into isolation, and denied access to a mental health care provider. Mr. Taylor’s is one of many suicides that have occurred in recent years at Wende and other facilities run by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

“Dante Taylor’s death at age 22 was foreseeable and preventable,” said Katie Rosenfeld, one of Mr. Taylor’s lawyers.  “Dante’s family calls for an open and full investigation into the circumstances of his death, and seeks accountability for the vicious, extra-legal beating by the rogue correction officers that triggered his death.”

“We hope this lawsuit promotes public awareness of DOCCS’ failure to improve medical and mental health care for people in prison, even in the face of an epidemic of suicides by people confined in our state’s prisons, particularly people who are in solitary confinement conditions,” said Marissa Benavides, an ECBA associate working on the case.

To read the complaint, click here. To read coverage of the suit in the Washington Post, click here, and to read coverage by the Associated Press, click here.

ECBA’s Katie Rosenfeld and Marissa Benavides represent the McDay family in the suit.

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ECBA Files Amended Complaint Against Albany County Nursing Home

On July 2nd, ECBA filed an amended complaint in its case against the Albany County Nursing Home, alleging a pattern and practice of mistreatment against elderly patients and residents. The complaint was amended to include three additional plaintiffs, who experienced similarly tragic and disturbing neglect while in the care of the facility.

Read coverage of the complaint and the new plaintiffs from the Albany Times Union here. The amended complaint is available here.

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Family Sues Prison Officials Over Senseless Death of 21 year-old Man from Untreated Appendicitis

The mother of Joshua England, a 21-year-old man who died last year in an Oklahoma prison from untreated appendicitis, sued Oklahoma prison officials and medical workers today for the wrongful, preventable, and needless death of her son.

Joshua was serving a short prison sentence—his first and only one—when, a year ago, he went to the prison health clinic at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center complaining of classic signs of appendicitis, including acute abdominal pain. For a week, prison staff did nothing. As Joshua begged for care, day after day, in five separate written requests for help, the prison staff took no action. No doctor ever examined him. He was never sent to a nearby medical facility for an examination or testing. As his symptoms grew worse and he grew more obviously sick, prison officials still did nothing. On the morning Joshua died, prison medical staff recorded his heart rate at a staggering 158 beats per minute, and still they did nothing. Hours later, Joshua died alone on the floor of his prison cell, of a common and entirely treatable condition. Joshua was set to be released from prison only months after he died.

Joshua’s family is represented by Katherine Rosenfeld and Ali Frick, along with co-counsel Paul DeMuro at Frederic Dorwart Lawyers. You can read a copy of the complaint here. Read the Guardian’s coverage of the case here.

 

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ECBA Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Family of Elderly Resident Left to Die in Albany County Nursing Home

New York, NY – As reported in the Albany-Times Union, this morning, the daughter of Albany resident Roger Sanford filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court against the Albany County Nursing Home, its Executive Director Larry Slatky, and other Nursing Home staff, for civil rights violations and wrongful death.

On March 1, 2018, Mr. Sanford’s daughter found him alone in his Nursing Home room, gasping for air, drenched in sweat, with an oxygen tube dangling from his nose. This followed months where Mr. Sanford was often unchanged, unfed, unmedicated, unwashed, unshaven, and even covered in his own urine and feces, the Complaint alleges. Mr. Sanford died as a result of the Nursing Home’s reckless disregard for his life.

A New York State Department of Health investigation found that the Nursing Home violated federal laws by failing to provide Mr. Sanford with basic life support or CPR; failing to follow professional standards of practice; and failing to provide Mr. Sanford with necessary respiratory care.

As alleged in the Complaint, when Mr. Sanford’s daughter complained to Executive Director Slatky about her father’s poor care, Mr. Slatky boasted that a relative of a Nursing Home employee worked in the Department of Health’s complaint department and would make sure any complaint against the Nursing Home disappeared.

“My hope and prayer is that our lawsuit will force Albany County Nursing Home to provide much safer care and services and that reckless and negligent deaths will be prevented. My father suffered horrifically, he was grossly neglected, he was denied basic medical care and he died prematurely because staff refused to get him to the hospital for days or even bother to call 911 when he was in a dire medical emergency. It broke my heart to find my father laying in his bed gasping for air, sweating profusely with no one there to assist him or help save his life.” said Lori LaRock, Mr. Sanford’s daughter.

“We expect nursing homes to take care of our loved ones, not to let them suffer and die alone,” said Ilann M. Maazel, lead counsel, and a lawyer at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady. “Albany County Nursing Home’s treatment of Mr. Sanford was unconscionable and indefensible.”

“No one should have to endure what Mr. Sanford’s family went through” said David Berman, another lawyer for Mr. Sanford’s family,  “Albany County Nursing Home must be held accountable for Mr. Sanford’s suffering.”

For more information, contact:

Ilann M. Maazel or David Berman

Emery Celli Brinkerhoff & Abady LLP (in New York) 212-763-5000

imaazel@ecbalaw .com dberman@ecbalaw.com

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Jury Awards $14.3 Million for Wrongful Police Shooting

November 2, 2018 –

Yesterday, a Manhattan federal court jury awarded $14.325 million to the Estate of John Collado, who was shot and killed by a New York City police officer in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan on September 6, 2011. The jury found that the officer, James Connolly, used excessive force when he shot and killed Mr. Collado.

Mr. Collado was shot for being a Good Samaritan. The shooting occurred when Connolly, who was working as a plain-clothes narcotics officer, got into a fight with a suspect on the street, and Mr. Collado, who was unarmed, tried to break it up.

Connolly testified that he shot Mr. Collado because Mr. Collado put him in a choke hold – but the jury specifically found that was false. The jury found that Connolly’s story did not hold up against the witnesses’ testimony, the forensic evidence, and the video evidence. Since the shooting, Connolly has been promoted by the NYPD; he is now a sergeant.

“My husband was a loving, caring man who was doing nothing more than trying to help,” Mr. Collado’s wife, Amarilis Collado, said. “This verdict is confirmation that John should never have been killed that day. After seven years of fighting, I finally feel like justice has been served,” Mrs. Collado added.

“The jury thoughtfully considered the evidence in this case and determined that what happened here was wrong, and that the Collado family is deserving of a significant award,” said ECBA partner Sam Shapiro. Mr. Shapiro and ECBA partner Earl Ward represented Mrs. Collado.

This case was covered in the New York Daily News, available here.

 

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ECBA Settles Disability Wrongful Death Case for $2.25 Million

As reported in the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere, ECBA has settled the case of Eddie Velasquez, a disabled man who died in a New York State group home. Eddie choked to death on a piece of turkey left unsecured and uncut in a kitchen refrigerator. An internal investigation revealed lapses in training and staffing, and a series of failures by New York State employees that led to Eddie’s death. ECBA attorney Ilann Maazel represented the Velasquez family in the case.

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ECBA Urges State Department To Seek Justice for Bakari Henderson

ECBA urged the U.S. State Department to “deploy all necessary resources and undertake every effort” to seek justice for Bakari Henderson, a 22-year-old African-American U.S. citizen brutally beaten to death in Greece in July.

On the night of July 7, 2017, a group of men chased Bakari from a bar in Zakynthos, Greece, and savagely beat him in the street.  Their motives are not yet known.  Bakari died of the severe head injuries he sustained.  Nine men have been arrested.

Bakari was a recent graduate of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona.  At the time of his death, he was in Greece working on a new clothing line he was developing.  He had interned for the Texas House of Representatives and State Senate, which honored him after his death.  Bakari’s family and friends remember him as a leader with a voice of reason who was fun-loving, peaceful, and calm.  The Henderson family has created the Travel with Bakari initiative to honor his legacy as a compassionate, friendly, inquisitive, intelligent young man.

ECBA represents Bakari’s parents, Phil and Jill Henderson.  On behalf of the Henderson family, ECBA urged the State Department to “take all available measures to help ensure the impartiality and thoroughness” of the Greek authorities’ investigation into Bakari’s death.  The letter seeks accountability for “all those who bear responsibility for Bakari’s death” and demands that the investigation “fully explore the attackers’ motives, including any potential bias or hatred.”

ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Earl S. Ward, and Doug Lieb represent the Henderson family.  To read the letter, click here.

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