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Guard Watched as Man Hanged Himself in Jail, Prosecutors Say

Ryan Wilson had been held on the Manhattan Detention advanced for lower than a month when he fell right into a deep despair final November.

After an argument with one other individual on the jail, Mr. Wilson normal a noose out of a bedsheet and hooked up it to a lightweight fixture. He advised an correction officer that he would grasp himself if he was not allowed out of his cell, in keeping with court docket paperwork.

However Capt. Rebecca Hillman, who was supervising the world the place Mr. Wilson was being held, didn’t seem to take his menace severely.

When he uninterested in ready for her and jumped off a stool with the sheet round his neck, Captain Hillman advised others on the jail that he was “enjoying,” prosecutors stated. When one other officer requested if he might enter the cell to chop Mr. Wilson down, she stated no, leaving him to hold from the sunshine fixture for almost quarter-hour.

On Monday, Captain Hillman, 38, was charged with criminally negligent murder in Manhattan Felony Court docket, and with submitting a false report in regards to the episode, which occurred on Nov. 22. She pleaded not responsible. Her lawyer didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Mr. Wilson, 29, had struggled with psychological well being issues for years however had by no means tried to kill himself earlier than, his lawyer stated. He was charged with theft in October 2020 and despatched to the Manhattan jail advanced, typically referred to as the Tombs.

Mr. Wilson’s demise underscored pervasive issues within the metropolis’s jail system, together with efforts by some guards to cowl up misconduct. The pandemic has additionally exacerbated shortcomings within the psychological well being system behind bars. Rates of self-harm have risen within the jails as concern of Covid-19 and the slow pace of the courts have contributed to an surroundings of near-constant anxiousness, incarcerated individuals and their attorneys have stated.

“We hold listening to Black lives matter however hold seeing Black lives don’t matter,” Mr. Wilson’s lawyer, Benjamin Pinczewski, stated in an interview. “Ryan Wilson’s life didn’t matter.”

Captain Hillman and the second officer, whom Mr. Pinczewski recognized as Oscar Rojo, have been each suspended shortly after Mr. Wilson’s demise was reported within the fall.

Mr. Wilson had spent seven years in jail for an tried theft and was launched final June. His sister, Elayna Manson, stated he obtained some assist from a church in Brooklyn however grew impatient when he was unable to search out work.

Mr. Wilson ended up in a shelter, a transfer that Ms. Manson stated exacerbated his psychological heath issues. She stated she tried to encourage her brother, assuring him that his circumstances would enhance and giving him cash.

Mr. Wilson, who was on parole, was arrested on theft expenses in October, when he was attempting to get cash for meals, his lawyer stated. Being incarcerated once more brought on Mr. Wilson to enter a steep despair, Mr. Pinczewski stated, including that the Correction Division was conscious of his psychological well being historical past and wishes.

Patrick Ferraiuolo, president of the Correction Captains’ Affiliation, didn’t reply to a request for remark. Correction Division officers stated an inside investigation into the case was persevering with. They declined to answer particular questions on Captain Hillman and the allegations in opposition to her.

Captain Hillman might withstand 4 years in jail if discovered responsible. Mr. Wilson’s household has referred to as for her to be fired.

“Your job was to ensure everybody was secure — to guard the individuals,” stated Ms. Manson. “I want you’ll have accomplished your job, and my brother would have nonetheless been right here. What made her not intervene?”

After Mr. Wilson’s demise, prosecutors stated, Captain Hillman supplied falsified official paperwork about what occurred. A New York Occasions evaluation of not too long ago launched knowledge discovered that lying on officials records was widespread amongst correction officers who had been disciplined over a 20-month interval, with greater than half offering false or incomplete info.

Officer Rojo was not charged with a criminal offense. He tried to assist Mr. Wilson however was stopped by Captain Hillman, Mr. Pinczewski stated.

Mr. Wilson’s demise was startlingly much like an tried suicide on Rikers Island in 2019. In that case, the detainee, Nicholas Feliciano, hanged himself in his cell with a bit of clothes.

Guards appeared on for seven minutes earlier than getting into his cell. Mr. Feliciano survived. 5 correction officers and a captain have been suspended in that case, however nobody has been charged.

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