The cause of death for 34-year-old Stephen Khadu is under investigation. He was held since December 2019 on second-degree murder charges.
This comes as calls for reform, especially on Rikers Island, get even louder.
CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas has more on those impacted and how they’re worried about who could be next.
“What goes through my mind is that I’ll get that phone call, that he’s gone. That’s what goes through my mind every single moment,” one mother said.
She is very worried about her son, who has been on Rikers Island for the last week.
“He has seen people attack each other to the point of … he can’t tell if they’re alive or dead,” the woman said.
She asked CBS2 not to reveal her identity, but shared her conversations with her son.
“It’s just one correction officer in the bubble, so basically they’re just letting the inmates run the jail,” the mother said.
As a former inmate there, Morris knows the conditions first hand.
“The cells, toilets, there’s no hot water,” Morris said. “The social distance is not good. They cloggoing people up next to each other. So, it’s more risky for you to catch the COVID-19.”
Morris was released within the last month and joined a growing chorus Wednesday demanding Mayor Bill de Blasio remove people from the jail complex and expedite shutting it down, amidst a growing number of inmate deaths.
Instead, the mayor reiterated new initiatives to ease overcrowding, provide bonuses to correction officers working triple shifts, and punish those who don’t show up, which creates a more dangerous situation.
“The union that aided and abetted mass absenteeism, you should be ashamed of yourself, which is why we are bringing a legal action against you,” de Blasio said.
That tough talk quickly softened as the city withdrew its lawsuit, saying the union “is finally encouraging officers who are fit for duty to show up for work.”
In response, the union told the mayor, “Why don’t you visit Rikers and talk to our officers. Unlike you, in a few months COBA will still be here.”
The infighting does not ease concerns for many who warn about Rikers’ potential long-term impact.
“At some point, everyone will be touched by this because these inmates will be let out and they’re going to be let out broken,” the mother said.
Which is why she said it’s in everyone’s interest for the situation on Rikers Island to turn around.