Kalief Browder’s Family Plans lawsuit against NYC

The family of a man who committed suicide after becoming a key activist in exposing the harsh conditions of Rikers Island announced they are suing the city for $20 million, New York Daily News reports.

Kalief Browder’s parents said the three years their son spent behind bars, including 800 days in solitary, wrecked his mind and set him on the path to self-destruction.

Browder served time for allegedly stealing a backpack. His family says he was subjected to “systematic and agonizing physical and mental abuse…tantamount to torture,” the papers filed in the city controller’s office state.

Browder attempted suicide four times while behind bars, the papers state. In June, he hanged himself with a cord from an air conditioner after reportedly telling his mother, “I can’t take it anymore.”

The notice of intention to file a wrongful death suit lists the New York City Department of Corrections, the Bronx District Attorney’s office and several other city health agencies.

Browder was arrested shortly after his 17th birthday in May 2010. He ended up in Rikers because his family could not raise $3,000 bail.

It was 33 months before he was even offered a plea deal, which he turned down. Browder was sent to a psychiatrist after he tried to kill himself for the second time, then placed back in solitary, his family claims.

The following month, when Browder tried to hang himself in his cell, he was cut down by corrections officers who then “beat and assaulted him.”

He tried to kill himself one more time before being sent back into solitary, and seeing a psychiatrist once more.

Browder’s time at Rikers was pretty terrible. He endured being slammed to the floor by a corrections officer in 2012 and survived a beat down by roughly 10 inmates during a brawl in 2010. Both incidents were caught on camera.

He was finally released in May 2013 and charges against him were dropped a month later. Despite attempting to move forward with his life, he continued to be haunted by what happened to him during his time at the prison.

“The damage was irreparable” and “caused him to become suicidal,” his parents stated in the papers.

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