NEW YORK - Relatives of Nicholas Feliciano say everyday is a struggle, learning to live with the permanent brain damage he suffered during a failed suicide attempt as an inmate on Rikers Island last year. Now, they're filing suit against the city and the officers they say had a responsibility to keep him from harm.
"No one tried to help him knowing that he had a history of suicidal attempts and mental health issues," said his grandmother, Madeline Feliciano.
What You Need To Know
- Relatives say correction officers watched as Nicholas Feliciano hanged himself in his cell and didn't take action for seven minutes
- Lawsuits allege Feliciano suffered permanent brain damage from lack of oxygen
- Family says city and officers should be held accountable
On Monday, Madeline Feliciano filed two civil rights lawsuits on behalf of her grandson. He was 18 last November when he wound up on Rikers for a parole violation. There, they say four corrections officers sat back and as he hanged himself inside his cell and did nothing to help him for seven minutes. The family's attorney says the guards reported that Nicholas was trying to manipulate them.
"The idea that you can have multiple officers watch someone attempt to kill themselves for seven minutes, referrred to as a 'manipulative gesture' and not attempt to help that person is a travesty," said David Rankin, who's representing the Felicianos.
Relatives say due to sustained lack of oxygen to his brain, Nicholas can no longer stand on his own, has limited vocal function and can't feed.
"These officers need to be held accountable. Someone needs to be held accountable," said Feliciano.
Four officers were suspended last year. But, the family is taking aim at the entire system saying Nicholas' was placed in the wrong unit because his history of suicidal behavior and mental illness was ignored. Rankin is urging the Bronx district attorney to indict the officers involved.
"The guards at rikers island apparently do not have the ability to take care of the inmates in their custody, we see this again, and again, and again and again," said Rankin.
City officials say they're reviewing the lawsuit. NY1's calls to the correction officer's union for comment were not returned.