NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The death of an autistic man at a state treatment center in Queens was ruled a homicide and his family is now taking legal action.
The victim’s sister, who didn’t want to be identified, said she is heartbroken.
“Too young to die. He was already in his own world,” Shaniece Luke told CBS 2′s John Slattery.
Her only sibling, 33-year-old Rasheen Rose, was autistic and non-verbal. He was a patient in Queens Village at the Bernard Fineson Developmental Center.
The family said he wanted to take a shower and was restrained.
“A couple of staff members, I’m hearing, were kicking him and had him face down and holding him and he couldn’t move,” Luke said.
The medical examiner said Rose suffered injuries that caused his death. When the victim’s brother-in-law, Richard Luke, identified the body, he said the mouth was distorted and bloody.
“So, I’m seeing a busted mouth and I’m saying, ‘wow,’” Richard Luke said.
The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.
“It tells me there’s abuse going on,” said Aaron Depass, the family’s attorney.
Depass filed suit against the state and said he will go after the staff members.
“He should have expected proper care. He should have expected not to be assaulted,” Depass said.
The victim’s family members and their lawyer said what’s needed inside are security cameras so there’s a clear record of conduct by both the clients and the staff members.
A spokeswoman for the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities said the office does not comment on pending litigation.
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