NEW YORK (PIX11) — A Rikers Island detainee died on Tuesday, marking the 12th death in Department of Correction custody this year, according to officials.
The death of Michael Nieves, 40, came just one day after city lawmakers made an unannounced visit to review conditions at the detention complex.
Nieves, who was being held at Rikers’ Anna M. Kross Center facility, died at a Queens hospital on Tuesday night, DOC officials said in a Wednesday news release.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is working to determine how Nieves died, and the DOC offered scant details on the circumstances, while noting that three staff members had been suspended in connection to the incident.
“This is a painful loss,” said DOC Commissioner Louis A. Molina in a statement. “Losing a loved one who is incarcerated is traumatic, and we send our deepest condolences to Mr. Nieves’ family and all those he held dear.
“A preliminary review of this incident required we take immediate action and suspend three uniform staff members,” Molina continued. “Any death in custody is a tragedy and we will be investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident.”
Benny Boscio, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association union, vowed to ensure that the staff members’ rights are protected as they fight the suspension.
“While there remains an ongoing investigation into this incident, our officers will be provided the best possible representation to fight these suspensions and ensure their rights are protected,” said Boscio in a statement.
Nieves entered DOC custody in early June on a burglary charge, according to DOC.
His death marks the 12th in DOC custody in 2022. A 13th person died just days after he was granted compassionate release.