Family of Rikers Island inmate who killed himself demands answers about his death

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EAST ELMHURST, Queens (PIX11) -- The family of a Rikers Island inmate wants to know why he was left alone in his cell when he should have been under a suicide watch.

According to Correction Department officials, Fabian Cruz, 35, was found dead in his cell at about 5 p.m. Jan. 1.

"We are just trying to investigate what's going on. We have no idea what's going on right now. We just want justice for Fabian," his mother, Amarilis Cruz, said Sunday.

According to an Associated Press report, citing anonymous city officials, a jail psychiatrist ordered Cruz to be sent to a special observation unit. But Cruz told a correction officer he didn't want to go. He was taken back to his cell.

"When he said he didnt want to go they took him back to his cell. And that was the mistake that they made. Because that's when I found out he hung himself," Amarilis Cruz said.

The AP also reported a supervising captain was supposed to be contacted when a suicide watch was ordered, but that didn't happen either.

Fabian Cruz had recently pleaded guilty to a felony sex charge for abusing his girlfriend's teenage daughter.
He was to be sentenced this month to 5 years in prison.

The Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte pledged in late 2014 to improve conditions in city jails and reduce the number of suicides and incidents of self-harm. The Correction Department said there were no suicides in city jails in 2014.

A Correction Department spokesperson said, "A correction officer involved with this incident has been removed from having any contact with inmates pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation."