The city has agreed to pay $380,000 to the family of a Rikers Island inmate who hanged himself in his jail cell after being taken off suicide watch, court records show.
Aris Hiraldo, 24, killed himself with the drawstring from his nylon sweatpants in February 2011 – just 10 days after a social worker canceled his suicide watch and correction officers returned him to a regular cell.
His family filed a lawsuit against the city and the Department of Correction in 2012, accusing them of negligence. Their lawyers found records showing that, even after the suicide watch ended, Hiraldo exhibited signs that he was a threat to himself.
Phone calls that Hiraldo made at the jail – which the Correction Department monitored – showed he still suffered from suicidal ideations, according to court records.
The family of Hiraldo filed a petition last month in Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court asking a judge to sign off on the settlement amount.
Hiraldo, a father of three who lived in Brooklyn, was sent to Rikers on Dec. 7, 2010, after being arraigned on a charge of assaulting his girlfriend.
After a medical examination, he was identified as an inmate who suffered from mental health problems and who had violated disciplinary rules. As a result, Rikers officials transferred Hiraldo on Jan. 19, 2011, to a mental health unit in the George R. Vierno Detention Center, placed him on suicide watch and kept him under medical observation.
Six days later, after a one-on-one interview with a social worker, Hiraldo was taken off suicide watch. But Hiraldo remained emotionally unstable, records show.
Brother of Kalief Browder to run for mayor against de Blasio
While at Rikers, he frequently spoke by phone to his girlfriend. The morning before he committed suicide, Hiraldo had gotten into a fight with his girlfriend after she said she wouldn’t visit him that day, according to a report on his death that was given to the city’s Board of Correction.
He was found hanging in his cell at about 10:25 a.m. on Feb. 3, 2011, after a correction officer removed a towel covering his cell window.
“A resolution of this unfortunate case was best for all parties,” said Nick Paolucci, a spokesman for the city Law Department.
The Correction Department said it no longer uses Corizon, the private contractor that provided medical and mental health care to inmates at the time of Hiraldo’s death. The agency said it also provides jailers with extensive suicide-prevention training and in 2014 began an initiative to study the causes of these incidents.
Plan to close Rikers ripped by correction officers’ union head
Hiraldo’s time at Rikers overlapped with that of Kalief Browder, whose horrifying experience on the island became a cause célèbre for ending solitary confinement for teenagers. Browder was 16 when he was accused of robbing a backpack in on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx on May 15, 2010. He was sent to Rikers because his family couldn’t afford $3,000 bail.
While at the jail, he endured beatings by correction officers and tried to commit suicide several times. Even after his release, Browder suffered from flashbacks to his experience on Rikers.
He killed himself on June 6, 2015, at age 22.
Send a Letter to the Editor