Records Face Exposure in Rikers Island Death Case
MANHATTAN (CN) - New York City must produce records on two correctional officers accused in a civil complaint of killing a Rikers Island inmate, a federal judge ruled.
Weeks before his Dec. 19, 2012, death, 52-year-old Ronald Spear filed a pro se lawsuit complaining that doctors at the North Infirmary Command at Rikers Island had withheld treatment for his acute kidney failure and high blood pressure.
"I want my medications back, that would stop the pain, and rid my body of excess water, and maintain a normal blood pressure reading," Spears wrote.
After seeking help from the Legal Aide Society's Prisoners Rights Project, Spears added: "I have officers retaliating against me."
Jonathan Chasan, a Legal Aid attorney working on Daniels' civil case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Spears was found dead weeks later with blunt force trauma to the head.
His father, John Daniels, in turn sued the city, three corrections officers and various officials. He says Spear's death was ruled a homicide, and that the Bronx District Attorney's Office is currently investigating the matter.
U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel ordered New York City on Monday to produce "use of force" forms that could shed light on whether two unnamed officers had any substantiated history of misconduct.
"The issue of whether state actors used excessive force resulting in a loss of life is an important one," the memo states.
He ordered the records to be "subject to an appropriate confidentiality order."
Jonathan Abady, a partner at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, representing Daniels, said that he was "pleased" with the ruling.
The New York City Law Department declined to comment because of the pending litigation.