Malik Rahman, Detainee at the The Bronx 40th Precinct Stationhouse In Mott Haven, Died Of Drug Overdose Inside Holding Cell
THE BRONX, NEW YORK (August 31, 2021) – A detainee identified as Malik Rahman has tragically died of a fentanyl overdose at the 40th Precinct Stationhouse in Mott Haven.
New York City police are saying that the incident began on August 23. Malik Rahman was stabbed by his girlfriend during a domestic dispute.
NYC police officials took the suspect to the 40th Precinct Stationhouse in Mott Haven. Malik Rahman was placed in a holding cell with three other men.
All four of the detainees were searched at the main desk station and again in their holding cells. Authorities believe one of the men was able to smuggle fentanyl into the holding cell.
All four of the detainees took the synthetic opioid. However, Malik Rahman experienced an overdose which resulted in convulsions. It is believed that he died inside of his holding cell.
But police were unaware of what happened for nearly 2 hours because no officer was monitoring his holding cell. Malik Rahman was found unresponsive in his cell and declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
Three other inmates became ill and were taken to the Lincoln Hospital. A full investigation remains ongoing at this time.
Liability In New York City In-Custody Deaths
Fentanyl is an incredibly powerful synthetic opioid that is often lethal when taken improperly. It is similar to morphine but can be nearly 100 times more potent. Doctors usually prescribe it for severe pain, but it is a common street drug as well. Many dealers will mix it with other drugs such as cocaine or MDMA, which can make it even more lethal. This drug along with other opioids has been absolutely devastating for prisoners in particular. In fact, one report from NPR stated that overdose deaths have risen nearly 600% in state prisons since 2001! There are a number of signs that a person is potentially overdosing on fentanyl.
- Pinpoint pupils
- Blue lips and skin
- Respiratory distress
The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution helps protect inmates from what the court deems “cruel and unusual punishment.” To that end prisoners have a legal right to medical care and a reasonably safe environment. When a police department is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate that department could be held liable in the event of an inmate death.
Stated plainly, when police officers assume control of a suspect’s autonomy by arresting them, they must keep the suspect safe. Part of keeping a suspect safe is properly searching inmates. Illicit drugs and weapons should never make it to holding cells, but they sometimes do. The NYPD Patrol Guide indicates that there should be an officer assigned to monitor holding cells. These officers should be able to detect when an inmate is in distress and take appropriate action.
When police officials fail to monitor a suspect this could expose that department to liability. Police departments are liable for the negligent actions of their employees – insofar as those officers were working within the course and scope of their job duties. Many prisons have a policy of physically monitoring inmates every 15 minutes. There should never be a huge gap of time when a police department is unaware of what is happening with a suspect. When an inmate dies in-custody there are a number of steps that should be taken.
- There should be a thorough, independent investigation into what happened.
- Medical records should be preserved.
- An autopsy may need to be performed.
- Work records of supervising police officers should be subpoenaed.
- Police officers and witnesses may need to be questioned under oath.
- An experienced wrongful death attorney should be consulted.
The family of any inmate that died in-custody may be able to seek justice through a wrongful death claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills and funeral costs. Plaintiffs will typically have to demonstrate negligence to be successful in any civil claim. In order for this to happen there needs to be a clear presentation of evidence and facts. A wrongful death attorney can investigate the specific facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are. There are, however, statute of limitations associated with civil claims. Failing to act within the statute of limitations could make it impossible to pursue a wrongful death claim.
Investigating An In-Custody Death At The 40th Precinct Stationhouse in Mott Haven
We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of Malik Rahman. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what happened for the sake of the victim’s family. What has been reported thus far by the press has been very distressing to say the least.
There are many questions that need to be answered. If it’s true that fentanyl was smuggled in, how did this happen? Why weren’t police able to confiscate it? Are other reports accurate? Were the police really unaware of what happened for nearly two hours? It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to help prevent additional tragedies like this. Every life in New York City is precious, regardless of what police suspect an inmate may be guilty of.