Rikers Island guards suspended after teen inmate tried to hang himself inside New York jail

Originally Published: 04 DEC 19 03:22 ET
Updated: 04 DEC 19 20:43 ET

    (CNN) -- The New York City Department of Correction suspended three officers and one captain after an 18-year-old inmate was found unresponsive at the Rikers Island jail last week, the Department of Correction confirmed to CNN.

Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann said in a statement that her department is investigating, and she referred the incident, which happened November 28, to the city's Department of Investigation, which is conducting an independent inquiry. The DOI declined to comment.

Brann was responding to a report that at least five corrections officers did not act for seven minutes while the inmate tried to hang himself, according to The New York Times, which cited four people with knowledge of the matter.

Some of the corrections officers watched the suicide attempt, according to the newspaper.

The inmate was hospitalized and put in a medically induced coma on Tuesday, the Times reported.

The incident was captured on video that officers are supposed to periodically monitor, the Times reported, according to four people who spoke to the newspaper on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the matter publicly.

"The claims being made here are extremely troubling and we are taking them seriously. The safety and wellbeing of those in our custody is our number one priority and an investigation into this incident is underway," Brann said about the Times report, adding "if the outcome of the investigation warrants we will take appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination."

Elias Husamudeen, president of the correction officers' union COBA, disputed reports that the officers did something wrong.

"The correction officers assigned to this area did their job and everyone was where they were supposed to be. When they noticed this inmate attempt to take his life, they took action," Husamudeen said in a statement.

The Department of Correction, citing privacy rules, told CNN it could not release the inmate's name.

CNN has also reached out to the Bronx District Attorney's Office for comment.

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