An inmate at New York City’s Rikers Island prison attempted to hang himself twice in the span of one month after he says he was humiliated and forced to urinate in a bottle because prison staff would not take him to the medical unit following a leg injury.
Jose Gonzalez, 29, who is serving a four-month sentence in Rikers for petty larceny, slipped on water from a leaky light fixture inside a prison bathroom in late May and was immediately taken to the prison’s urgent care unit.
But instead of being sent to the jail’s main medical unit, known as the North Infirmary Command, he remained inside a general “medical observation” dorm area in the Anna M. Kross Center, where he claims staff members made him request crutches anytime he want to move or go to the bathroom.
While the reason for keeping the crutches away was purportedly to keep them from being used as a weapon, Gonzalez told the New York Daily News he was forced to urinate into a bottle because he was unable to get an officer to bring over the crutches fast enough.
In early June, Gonzalez, who was diagnosed with an “unspecified episodic mood disorder,” was found unconscious with “ligature” marks around his neck.
“On arrival, (correction) officer at the scene reported that (patient) was found lying on the floor with a piece of string tied around his neck,” internal department records state, according to the Daily News. “(Patient) was … unresponsive to verbal command and tactile stimulus.”
A clinician at the prison recommended that Gonzalez be put on suicide watch before his attempt, but because he had previously been involved in a fight and was thought to be faking his injury to get placed in the North Infirmary Command (referred to by inmates as the “penthouse”) he remained in the observation dorm.
After returning to the prison following his suicide attempt, officials did put him on suicide watch but earlier this week was found with ligature marks around his neck and coughing up blood inside a bathroom.
“On arrival, (patient) was on floor in bathroom, supine position with bloody froth coming out of his mouth,” records show.