American man dies from diabetes-related complications in a New York City jail, guards blamed

A video published by the New York shows the final hours of a diabetic man who died from diabetes-related complications at Rikers Island jail.

Rikers Island jail, the main jail complex of New York City, has come under immense criticism – particularly, the correction officers – who thought 45-year-old Carlos Mercado was withdrawing from illegal drugs.

Mercado’s insulin had previously been confiscated by the guards. Despite the inmate carrying around a garbage bag of his own vomit around with him, he was not afforded medical help until it was too late.

“All he was asking for was his medicine”

Mercado slowly died from diabetes ketoacidosis over 14 hours.

He had been arrested for trying to sell a small amount of heroin to an undercover officer in August 2013, and was taken to Rikers Island.

Mercado’s medication, which included his insulin, had been taken prior to his into admission into a holding cell. None of the prison staff were aware that Mercado had diabetes.

The video, published on Tuesday 1 September, shows how Mercado’s condition worsened. After the holding cell door was opened, he collapsed to the ground, only for a guard to step over his body as he was left there for three minutes.

Mercado later began vomiting, carrying his sick in a bag with him to alert guards that he was unwell. According to a New York State Commission report, Mercado threw up “10 or 20 times”.

Mercado asked guards for his medication, telling them that he had diabetes, but his pleas for medical attention were ignored.

“Nobody should have to die like that,” said Carlos’s sister, Linda Mercado. “All he was asking for was his medicine. That’s all he needed. He would be here today.”

Internal investigation

Mercado arrived at the Anna M. Kross Centre on Riker’s Island at 18:54; he died at 09:36 the next day.

An internal Department of Correction investigation ruled that his death was the fault of the correction offers, who believed Mercado was “withdrawing”.

Failure to refer Mercado for medical attention was ruled as a violation of Department of Correction protocol, and the four officers: Maurice Brown, Eric Jacobs, Reginald Faulkner and Brian Chin must now undergo retraining.

Law firm Rankin & Taylor are currently in settlement negotiations with New York City on behalf of Mr. Mercado’s family.

Picture: www.theguardian.com

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Jack Woodfield

Jack is Deputy Editor of Diabetes.co.uk and the award-winning Low Carb Program. He works hard, plays fair and sleeps whenever possible. He also has type 1 diabetes, doesn't mind being called a "diabetic", and once won a talent show for dancing to Dario G’s 1997 hit “Sunchyme”.

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