A detainee tried to hang himself Thursday evening in a holding cell in Manhattan criminal court and is now in intensive care, according to sources and Correction Department officials.
Anthony Scott was in critical condition after the suicide attempt in Manhattan Central Booking as he was awaiting transfer to the Rikers Island jail complex following arraignment for allegedly assaulting a nurse at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia, according to sources and records.
As many as four correction officers were close by at the time, sources said. The suicide attempt came as 12 detainees have died while in city custody so far this year, a grim sign of crisis conditions at Rikers Island and other lockups.
A timeline of Thursday’s incident provided by DOC sources indicates Scott arrived in a holding cell around 1 p.m. and soon fell asleep. At about 2:50 p.m., he woke up.
A correction officer saw Scott with a shoestring around his neck tied to a partition around 4:25 p.m. He’d somehow managed to jam a lock to his cell. It wasn’t until around 5 p.m. that the Fire Department arrived and helped break the lock.
Medics attempted to revive Scott at 5:10 p.m., the records show.
Scott was admitted to intensive care at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Lower Manhattan around 5:35 p.m.
“The safety and well-being of those in our care is of paramount importance and our thoughts are with them and their family,” DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi said.
Scott has 136 prior arrests and had just been in Manhattan Central Booking three days earlier on a previous bust.
At least five detainees have died by suicide at Rikers Island since November. The Board of Correction, which serves as a DOC watchdog, has called the levels of self-harm at city jails “alarming.”
“Every day, our officers utilize their quick thinking to intercede and prevent inmate suicides,” said Benny Boscio, president of the correction officers union.
The city and a court-appointed federal monitor of Rikers Island recently reached an agreement requiring staff to be reinstructed on proper protocol when a detainee attempts suicide.
“We are outraged to learn that the City again has failed to protect our vulnerable clients in its custody, and this incident is the latest horrifying example of that ineptitude,” said Tina Luongo, attorney-in-charge of criminal defense at the Legal Aid Society. “Instead of receiving treatment, Mr. Scott was criminalized for his mental illness, a tragic and familiar outcome for many of our clients in need of services.”