Authorities say a mentally ill former marine “baked to death” in a Rikers Island jail cell.
Jerome Murdough was arrested for trespassing after seeking warm shelter in an enclosed stairwell on the roof of a Harlem public housing project.
A week later, the mentally ill homeless man was found dead in a Rikers Island jail cell that four city officials say had overheated to at least 100 degrees, apparently because of malfunctioning equipment.
The officials told The Associated Press that the 56-year-old former Marine was on anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medication, which may have made him more vulnerable to heat. He also apparently did not open a small vent in his cell, as other inmates did, to let in cool air.
“He basically baked to death,” said one of the officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to discuss specifics of the case.
An autopsy was inconclusive with the medical examiner’s office ruling that more tests were needed to determine Murdough’s exact cause of death.
But officials with detailed knowledge of the case say indications from the autopsy and investigation point to heat stroke and/or extreme dehydration.
Last year, three Rikers inmates died from non-natural causes, according to Department of Correction statistics.
Should the prison be held liable for Murdough’s death?
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