NEW YORK (PIX11) – An inmate has died while in custody at the Rikers Island Jail Complex, the Department of Correction said Wednesday.
Rubu Zhao, 52, was being held in the George R. Vierno Center at Rikers when he was reported to have suffered severe injuries on Sunday, officials said. Uniformed staff immediately responded and activated a medical emergency response, according to DOC, and Zhao was transported to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was admitted.
It remains unclear how the 52-year-old sustained the injuries.
On Tuesday, Zhao was pronounced dead at the hospital.
“I am saddened by the circumstances that led to Mr. Zhao’s passing and I offer my condolences to his family,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina. “The health and safety of everyone in our custody is a top priority, and a full investigation is underway to determine how this unfortunate incident occurred.”
The cause of death is under investigation pending review from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
“What’s happening at Rikers is a horrendous, nonstop disaster,” said Gabriel Sayegh, co-executive director of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice. “Mayor [Eric] Adams is working overtime to make it worse. Mr. Zhao was the 21st person to die in New York City jails under Mayor Adams. If Adams has his way, Rikers will remain open forever and the city’s entire social safety net will be dismantled.”
Zhao is the second person in DOC custody to die this year, according to department officials. His death will be investigated by the New York attorney general and the Department of Investigation.
Zhao was in custody at Rikers for allegedly stabbing a 48-year-old woman to death in Brooklyn in December. The woman was found dead with a stab wound to her neck inside a Sunset Park apartment. Zhao was charged with second-degree murder, officials said.