/  06.24.2021

The family of Jamel Floyd, a Brooklyn man who died after being pepper sprayed in the borough’s Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) last year, has just taken legal action.

According to a Wednesday (June 23) report from The New York Post, Floyd’s mother, Donna Mays, has filed a lawsuit against both the federal government and “unnamed BOP staff” for unspecified damages. The suit alleges that “Mr. Floyd’s life was cut abruptly short by correctional officers who subjected Mr. Floyd to excessive force and then stood by while he slowly died.” 

The suit says that, on May 30, 2020 Floyd, who had been sent to MDC after being convicted on a burglary charge, had been put into solitary confinement after being beaten by prison guards the day before. Floyd reportedly suffered from schizophrenia, high blood pressure and asthma and had to take medication for each condition.

On June 3, 2020, the suit says, Floyd, who had been studying to get a commercial driver’s license and planned to start a trucking company along with his brother, began suffering from “a severe mental health or medical crisis” and began asking for medical help only to be ignored. According to the suit, Floyd told guards that “I can’t breathe” and “Someone is trying to kill me,” and asked the guards if they were ignoring him for personal reasons.

The documents claim that “at least” one guard told Floyd to be quiet and that there was nothing wrong with. From there, the files allege, a prison psychologist spoke with Floyd momentarily, but no record of it was recorded.

In an effort to get attention, Floyd then broke his sink and knocked a hole in his cell window before 20 officers equipped with riot shields and more arrived at the scene. Once they were there, Floyd reportedly said: “My chest is hurting and y’all are not listening.” 

The suit alleges that from there, guards sprayed “several canisters” of pepper spray into the cell, which led Floyd to “coughing, gagging and choking” before falling to the floor. The file claims that the guards, some of whom vomited as a result of the pepper spray, acted with “excessive force,” and that the pepper spray caused Floyd “to experience a life-threatening abnormal hearth rhythm.” 

Eventually, prison officials tried to revive Floyd, who was strapped to a chair, but by then he had already died.


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