Kevin Bryan, who entered the notorious jail complex six days ago after he was arrested for burglary, was found hanging from a pipe inside of a staff bathroom at the Eric M. Taylor Center just after 7 a.m., according to jailhouse sources and internal records.
Prior to his death, the officer on duty had secured Bryan, 35, inside of an officer’s station after he was “bullied” and threatened by other detainees, according to sources and Benny Boscio, the president of the Correction Officers’ Benevelont Association.
“He was getting bullied, smacked up, they’re throwing his stuff so [the officer] gets him out of the housing area. She opens the gate, gets the inmate out with his property,” Boscio told The Post.
The officer, who was at the end of a double shift and was the only staffer on duty in the housing area, was attempting to notify a supervisor and ask for backup when Bryan entered the staff bathroom and bolted the door, according to sources and Boscio.
Sources and Boscio noted the lock on the outside of the door had malfunctioned.
An assistant deputy warden responded to the scene, kicked down the door and found Bryan unresponsive, tied to a pipe inside of the bathroom around 7:08 a.m., internal records say.
He was pronounced dead about 40 minutes later, the DOC said.
Boscio pointed out that the officer on duty had been managing the housing area by herself when there’s typically supposed to be another staffer guarding the floor.
“She tried to do the right thing in a bad situation where she was left basically on a post by herself,” said Boscio.
“If she had [another] officer on the floor this probably would not have happened.”
The DOC has been in the throes of a staffing crisis for more than a year. More than 3,500 correction officers have resigned or retired since 2019, including 559 who left this year, resulting in a 35% decline in headcount, COBA claimed previously.
The decline outpaces the 27% drop in the inmate population in that period, data from the union shows.
Compounding the issue is chronic absenteeism among staff, an issue that DOC Commissioner Louis Molina has recently cracked down on by firing workers who don’t show up for work or suspending them for 30 days, sources said.
“The department has been firing staff like crazy,” said one high-ranking jailhouse source.
“This would be fine if we had a job that people are beating down the door to take but they aren’t.”
Tamara Carter, whose son Brandon Rodriguez died on Rikers Island last year, criticized Mayor Eric Adams for the string of deaths.
“I don’t know what the Mayor is waiting for to do something. Does he even care? What are we going to have to do? Do they want us to film each funeral to see the families’ pain up close and personal?” Carter, who is a member of the advocacy group Freedom Agenda, said in a statement.
“Doing nothing equals more death. The humans on Rikers are screaming for help. Is anybody going to help them?”
Attorneys for Bryan at Brooklyn Defender Services didn’t immediately comment on the incident.
So far, 2022’s death count is set to outpace last year’s already steep toll of 16, which is the most deaths the agency had seen since 2016 and more than 2019 and 2020 combined.
By this time last year, just 10 deaths had been recorded, marking a 40% increase year to date in 2022.
“We are very distressed to hear about the death of another person in custody. Our deepest condolences go out to this individual’s loved ones,” Molina said in a statement.
“We will conduct a preliminary investigation into the circumstances surrounding this death for which we grieve.”
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.