Mayor: Death of NYC inmate in hot cell 'shocking'

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

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NEW YORK (AP) -- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling the death of a mentally ill veteran in an overheated jail cell "shocking and troubling."

Speaking at a bill signing Thursday, De Blasio told reporters he didn't know how Jerome Murdough's death could have happened.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the 56-year-old homeless man was found dead last month in a cell that was at least 100 degrees in a unit for inmates with mental illnesses at Rikers Island.

Four officials who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity say Murdough apparently didn't open a vent to let in cool air and was on anti-psychotic medication that may have made him more sensitive to heat.

The Department of Correction is investigating the death and has acknowledged the temperature in Murdough's cell was "unusually high."


A New York City official tells The Associated Press that a mentally ill homeless veteran who died behind bars last month "basically baked to death" in a jail cell that overheated to more than 100 degrees.

Fifty-six-year-old Jerome Murdough (muhr - DOH') had been charged with trespassing and placed in an observation unit for inmates with mental illnesses at Rikers Island.

Four city officials say Murdough, who took anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medication, apparently did not open a small vent to let cool air into his cell, as other inmates did. Officials also said he was not checked for hours, in violation of department protocol.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation by the city's Department of Correction.

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