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Victor Mercado Died At Rikers Island Prison Shortly After Judge Granted Release

Inmate Victor Mercado of The Bronx Died Following Medical Emergency At Rikers Island Prison

Victor Mercado Died of Covid-19 At Rikers Island Prison

QUEENS, NEW YORK CITY (October 19, 2021) – An inmate at the Rikers Island prison identified as Victor Mercado has tragically died following a medical emergency.

New York City police officials are saying that the incident took place around 12:39 p.m. on Friday, October 15th. Victor Mercado suffered some type of medical emergency at Rikers Island.

Paramedics took the inmate to the Elmhurst Hospital so that he could receive treatment. Despite life-saving measures from medical staff, Victor Mercado died following his admission.

Family members of the inmate later learned that Victor Mercado contracted Covid-19. The inmate’s tragic death comes not long after a Judge granted him an emergency compassionate release.

A full investigation into the Riker’s Island incident remains ongoing at this time. This incident comes just a few weeks after Stephen Khadu died following medical distress at the Rikers Island jail.

Liability In Inmate Deaths At The Rikers Island Prison

Rikers Island has become infamous for a long list of issues including staffing shortages and reports of abuse. According to The City, “Deaths and self-harm incidents are up among detainees, spurring an emergency report filed last month by a federal monitor, who declared “disorder and chaos” are roiling city jails.” On one day more than 1,200 correction officers called out sick. When a jail does not have adequate staff this can lead to numerous problems including:

  • Riots
  • Subpar inmate care
  • Inmate on inmate violence
  • Poor health outcomes for inmates

The pandemic has exasperated many of the problems that jails were already facing. Counties and cities are having a difficult time recruiting people to work in the jails. On top of that, Covid-19 has spread rapidly among America’s prisons. According to one study from Stanford Engineering researchers, Covid-19 has spread faster in America’s prisons than it has in the outbreak in Wuhan, China or on the Princess Diamond cruise ship.

Jails in New York City have a legal obligation to provide inmates with reasonably adequate health care. Prison facilities must also be reasonably safe and free of violence. When a prison is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate that prison could be liable in the event the inmate is injured or killed. Inmates who are older or who have pre-existing conditions are much more vulnerable to dying from Covid-19 or otherwise becoming seriously ill, according to the CDC.

There are a number of steps that jail officials can take to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. Vaccinations, wearing masks and engaging in social distancing can all help create a safer environment for inmates. The family of Leon Martinez filed the first wrongful death claim related to Covid-19 after he contracted the illness and died in prison. Among other things, the family’s attorney has argued that staff refused to wear masks or engage in social distancing, leading the inmate to contract the illness. It’s important that many different steps are taken after an inmate dies while incarcerated.

  • Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
  • Medical records should be preserved.
  • A thorough, independent investigation should be conducted.
  • Work records of jail staff should be examined.

The family of any inmate that died at Rikers Island could seek justice through a wrongful death claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. Sadly, however, jails will often fight hard to deny liability for any incident. A wrongful death attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case free of cost and let you know what your legal options are.

Investigating An Inmate Death At The Rikers Island Prison

We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of Victor Mercado. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to authorities. There needs to be a thorough investigation for the sake of the victim’s family.

This incident raises a number of safety concerns. What safety measures does Rikers Island have in place with respect to Covid? Are correctional officers following those safety measures? Could this tragedy have been prevented? It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to help prevent other inmates from suffering the same fate.

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