FBI files Color of Law suit over 2012 Rikers Island death.

Feds charge New York prison official with denying help to dying inmate — RT USA

Terrence Pendergrass — a 49-year-old Rikers Island Department of Correction officer — was accused Monday afternoon of “deliberately ignoring the urgent medical needs” of an inmate at the facility, according to a statement released this week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and charged with one count of deprivation of rights under the color of law. He was released from police custody after posting $250,000 bond and faces a 10-year maximum prison sentence if found guilty …

The inmate, 25-year-old robbery suspect Jason Echevarria, had been admitted to the MHAUII [Mental Health Assessment Unit] following multiple suicide attempts, the complaint reads, including one instance in which he swallowed a battery.

via Feds charge New York prison official with denying help to dying inmate — RT USA.

It’s time for state legislators and governors nationwide to cede that corrections departments cannot serve as a stand in for mental health facilities, and time for legislators and governors nationwide to cede that failing to provide mental health services leads to the commission of crimes, particularly since homelessness of itself is increasingly designated as a crime, with some locales going to the extreme of making it a crime to feed the homeless, or making it a crime to provide a blanket to a homeless person, or making it a crime to keep church doors open on frosty nights to shelter the homeless.

Public safety hinges on these admissions, corrections officers’ safety hinges on these admissions, sane budgets hinge on these admissions, and reestablishing a modicum of common decency hinges on these admissions … mental illness isn’t a life choice, it’s a medical condition, and its victims are as deserving of basic respect and emergency care as victims of car crashes.

The belligerence behind this sole superpower’s credo of “My country, right or wrong” is wearying the whole world: it’s time – right now – for it to evolve to “My country rights its wrongs.”

Belligerence costs more than circumspection and well-considered change, in cold hard cash, as well as warm blood and tears.

For no reason other than the profitability corporations enjoy from our remaining the “Incarceration Nation” and the related incomes legislators and governors enjoy from those corporations, Jason Echevarria’s father has to live with this:

An autopsy determined that the inmate suffered internal burns and scarring along his esophagus and his trachea after consuming the ammonium chloride soap-ball.

The soap-balls were distributed because of a sewage flood, a sewage flood that likely meant the whole unit should have been evacuated … the whole unit that would only have an ethical reason for existence if staffed entirely by mental health professionals.

About Susan Chandler

Now-disabled interior/exterior designer dragged into battling conviction corruption from its periphery in a third personal battle with civil public corruption.
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2 Responses to FBI files Color of Law suit over 2012 Rikers Island death.

  1. patti jones says:

    My name is Patti Jones the Aunt to the Late Anthony Clayton Lester (Tony), who lost his life quite tragically on July 12, 2010. The Arizona Department of Corrections ruled his death a “HIGHLY PREVENTABLE SUICIDE”.

    Since the very moment that the Lester family was notified of Tony’s most TRAGIC, SENSELESS death, I have been on a RELENTLESS mission filled with such incessant driven passion to expose the deep deplorable mental health care that exists within the confines of our Arizona and United States Prisons.

    Tony’s tragic story is the harsh reality that our judicial and penal systems have become the modern day mental-health intuitions for our SEVERE MENTALLY ILL.

    Tony was clinically diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic, who went through a lengthy rule 11 court proceeding to restore him to a minimal level of competency to be sentenced to a 12 yr prison sentence on a first time offense, Tony NEVER had any prior criminal history.

    The rule 11 commissioner court ordered for him to remain on all psychotropic medications that kept him competent and safe. The sentencing judge “HIGHLY” recommended that Tony be placed in the mental health unit within the Arizona State Prison, but instead Tony was placed in General Population, allowed to make the decision to refuse his court ordered medications that kept him competent and safe. At which point, Tony began to severally de-compensate, and was placed in a small detention cell within the Detention unit at the Tucson Complex. This Detention unit within the prison is exactly what exemplifies the SOLITARY CONFINEMENT CELL.

    As Tony’s appointed Mental/Medical Health care Power of Attorney; I exercised my authority by calling the prison on a daily basis, alerting ALL prison personnel of Tony’s very fragile state of mind and of his history of self mutilation and the many voices that would submerge commanding him to kill himself. It was this point of time that Tony could no longer control the VOICES there were too many voices for Tony to cope with. The VOICES, had begun now talking to each other and at times he would completely black out.

    In spite of my numerous daily phone calls to ALL prison personnel from ground level to administration level, to psychiatric staff , PLEADING with them to assist ensuring Tony’s safety and his limited mental competency NOT ONE prison personnel took my warnings seriously.

    In fact, many administrative officials and numerous psychiatric staff called Tony a “manipulator” and a “gamier”. Tony’s criminal defense attorney had written a letter attaching the court order along with numerous psychiatric evaluations from numerous courts appointed psychiatrists making a poignant point: That to ensure Tony’s ongoing competency it was significant that he remain on all psychotropic medications. This important, critical criteria was documented by ALL mental health experts that evaluated Tony to ensure Tony’s ongoing safety and limited mental competency.

    It was this extreme difficulty in acquiring the sufficient and timely mental health care for Tony that led to the severe decline in Tony’s fragile mental psyche. It was the cell limitations : no windows , poor lighting, insufficient, ill trained staff contact,, property restrictions, delayed access to medical and mental health care by correctional officers not trained to observe and to be vigilant of psychotic behaviors, the boil maker template to treat inmates as gamey and manipulative as well as faking real mental health care psychosis triggered by isolation and lack of sufficient treatment plans, medication side effects and insufficient mental health staff available to provide adequate assessments of those housed in solitary confinement.

    It was not until Tony’s mother received a letter signed SYLAR just a few short weeks after he was taken into DOC custody that we were alerted that Tony’s mental health care had begun to severally de-compensate, in fact we were FRANTIC! SYLAR was the alternative, destructive personality that would command Tony to kill himself.

    As a result of Tony being off all psychotropic medications, Tony’s fragile mental health had begun to spiral out of control as such he could no longer distinguish between reality and delusion. Tony then placed himself in a tiny detention cell in the detention unit at the Tucson Complex, awaiting approval of protective segregation.

    It was in this detention unit in which Tony first cut his wrist, he was then was taken to a suicide watch cell, for a few weeks. Just two days prior to Tony’s suicide, Tony was released off a subsequent suicide watch, at which time he was released back to the Detention Unit to a small Detention Cell; mistakenly issued a hygiene kit that contained two razors that he used to cut both wrists, groin and severally cut his neck, completely transecting the internal jugular vein.

    But the MOST DEPLORABLE tragedy to this story was when Tony was found by correctional officers as they stood by and watched and waited for Tony to bleed out without rendering any aid what so ever, only calling his name “LESTER, LESTER”.

    There was video footage taken the night Tony committed suicide that depicts the guard’s lackadaisical attitude as Tony lay struggling to survive.

    Tony’s mother was permitted to view the un-redacted video of the FINAL few moments of her ONLY child’s life. UNABLE to give her ONLY child comfort as he laid gasping, moaning fighting vigorously to survive. IMAGINE any parents HORRIFIC NIGHTMARE watching this SECRET VIDEO as correctional officers stood around for twenty three minutes doing NOTHING as first responders to this major life threatening emergency.

    It was not until a local NBC affiliate: KPNX 12 News in Phoenix, AZ, investigative journalist, Ms. Wendy Halloran began asking questions as to HOW this senseless tragedy could have happened. Providing numerous public records requests for the correctional officer’s response to the final moments of her SON’S life.

    The DOC and State of Arizona’s attorney’s forced KPNX 12 News, in conjunction with Ms. Wendy Halloran to file a special action lawsuit to obtain this video. KPNX 12 News was victorious in obtaining this Video, resulting with the ADOC paying over 25,000.00 dollars in attorney fees to KPNX 12 News in Phoenix, AZ. From the very moment that the Lester family had learned of Tony’s tragic death the DOC’S attorney’s have made every imaginable excuse as to how this senseless TRAGEDY could have happened.

    As a result my sister, Tony’s mother had filed a wrongful death lawsuit, which now has been settled out of court. There is now VALIDATION, CONFIRMATION of the negligent acts of all prison officials in the wrongful death of Tony.

    From the very moment that we learned of our Tony’s senseless death I have been on a mission of public enlightenment and awareness to just how DEPLORABLE the mental health care within our United States Prisons truly is. That this cycle of “Deliberate Indifference” to human life that has been allowed to exist for decades will now cease to exist.

    That our SEVERALLY MENTALLY ILL within our U.S. Prisons will be treated with some degree of HUMAN DECENCY, after all this is AMERICA! The HOPE that there will be an enactment of human decency for the SEVERALLY MENTALLY ILL throughout our U.S. Prisons.

    That the LESTER Family’s most HORRIFIC, SENSELESS tragedy: The death of Tony will not be in vain. That there will resurrect a better future for our children, our children’s children.

    Tony was NEVER issued a death sentence, but in essence he was when he was not given the basic mental health care as mandated by our United States Constitution. Tony deserved to serve his time and to re-enter society to his LOVING mother, an ADORING daughter and a LARGE supportive family. Tony deserved better, Arizona Department of Corrections deserves better, America deserves better!

    I am enclosing all links that have been to shed light on the deplorable mental health conditions within our Arizona Prisons, done by KPNX 12 News

    investigative reporter Ms. Wendy Halloran.



    • Thank you very much, Ms. Jones; I can only imagine the pain it causes you to tell and retell the story of your nephew’s agonizing 23-minute death. It is my sincere hope that such efforts by bereaved family members will soon turn the tide – nationwide – on criminalizing mental illness, using corrections facilities as wildly inappropriate substitutes for mental health facilities, and employing corrections officers that can’t or won’t reasonably respond to medical emergencies. I’m sorry for all that you and your family have been through.


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