$1.25M settlement reached in inmate's alleged beating death
NEW YORK (AP) -- New York City officials will pay $1.25 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a Rikers Island inmate who was allegedly fatally beaten by jail guards in an area without surveillance cameras four years ago after a confrontation with a guard, an attorney said Monday.
But authorities still should pursue criminal charges in the 2011 death of Angel Ramriez, who was agitated and going through alcohol and heroin withdrawal when he took a swing at a guard, missed and was punched once in the chest before being dragged by a team of guards into a stairwell, family attorney Scott Rynecki said.
"The family's position is they would like to see those responsible for his death be criminally charged," he said.
Bronx prosecutors have said they investigated the 50-year-old Ramirez's death but couldn't prove criminal homicide beyond a reasonable doubt. Documents obtained by The Associated Press last year showed investigators found numerous inmate witnesses who described hearing Ramirez's agonizing screams and the sound of batons cracking against bones.
An autopsy revealed he suffered from a ruptured spleen, broken ribs and his stomach filled with blood, the document showed.
A Law Department spokeswoman said in a statement the settlement is in the best interest of all parties.
The AP reported last year that Ramirez was one of three inmates to have died at Rikers since 2009 after alleged beatings by guards in cases where no criminal charges were ever filed. But earlier this month, federal prosecutors announced charges against three correction officers in one of those cases, the 2012 death of Ronald Spear.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has made reforming Rikers a cornerstone of his administration. Earlier this month, city lawyers, attorneys for injured inmates and federal prosecutors announced a federal court monitor would be appointed to oversee agreed upon reforms designed to curb violence, including the installation of video cameras and better internal investigations of alleged brutality.
The Daily News first reported the settlement.