Family of man who died in DOC custody demands answers, closure of Rikers Island
Family members of a man who died in New York City Department of Correction custody are demanding answers and calling for the closure of Rikers Island.
Candles and photos sit outside the family's Washington Heights home to honor Gilberto Garcia, who died at Rikers on Monday. He was the 18th inmate to die in DOC custody or soon after being released.
Garcia's mother says she talked to her son last Saturday on her birthday and he seemed fine. She wants “Fuli,” as his friends and family called him, to be remembered for who he was.
"A funny person, a person that would always make you laugh, always be there if you needed anything,” she says.
The Department of Correction commissioner says Garcia was pronounced dead around 12:50 p.m. on Oct. 31, and that his death is being investigated.
Garcia's cousin says her family wants answers as they await an autopsy report from the medical examiner.
"They have breakfast in the morning, they're supposed to wake everybody up, make sure everyone is alive and awake. So, I want to know what happened here…why they say there was an overdose. My cousin does not do drugs,” says Garcia’s cousin.
Garcia's sister is calling for the repeated deaths behind bars to stop, as this year is pacing to be the deadliest on record at Rikers. She says she worries about her other brother who is still in custody there.
"Somebody gotta take action, get Rikers closed down, this can't be happening anymore, can't be another inmate to die,” she says.
Advocates will hold a rally and vigil on Thursday at City Hall to honor all of the incarcerated people who have died this year as they continue their push to close Rikers.