Jamel Floyd passed away on June 3 in Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, with his mother Donna Mays alleging that his death could have been avoided if the guards had helped him after dousing his jail cell in a shocking amount of pepper spray, the New York Post reports. However, after enduring a mental health crisis, the suit says he “slowly died” as correction officers did nothing.
The 35-year-old took medication for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, high blood pressure, and asthma. “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 lawsuit says.
He sought help as he was experiencing a mental health episode, repeatedly yelling, “Is this personal?,” “I need medical attention,” “I can’t breathe,” and “Someone is trying to kill me,” the filing claims. Then, “In desperation, Mr. Floyd broke his sink and knocked a hole in his cell window, begging for someone to pay attention to him,” the court papers say. But no one believed anything was wrong.
When more than 20 officers then appeared at his cell, he allegedly said, “My chest is hurting and y’all are not listening.” Some of the guards were holding “riot shields” and began spraying “several canisters of pepper spray directly into his locked cell,” according to documents.
There was so much pepper spray that one officer threw up and the others had to cover their faces with their shirts. Floyd “began loudly coughing, gagging and choking” and he “collapsed and fell to the floor.” The docs claim that he suffered from a “life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm” due to a “grossly excessive use of force.”
Instead of calling for medical staff, Floyd was strapped to a chair—and when they attempted to revive him, it was too late. He had been at the MDC since October 2019 for a burglary conviction and was due three days later to appear before a parole board.
He was going to be eligible for parole four months later.