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NYC Department of Corrections officer indicted for negligence after detainee hung himself in cell: DA

Elayna Mason (left), Reverend Kevin McCall and attorney Ben Pinczewski (right) on April 29 in front of the Manhattan District Attorney's office.
Photo by Mark Hallum

City Department of Corrections Captain Rebecca Hillman was arraigned on Monday for criminally negligent homicide after the November 2020 death of Ryan Wilson.

Wilson was locked up in the Tombs in Lower Manhattan and had fashioned a noose around his neck during an attempt to move him to a different cell. Law enforcement sources said he strangled to death while Hillman told other officers to stand down and did not call for medical services.

Elayna Mason, 35, said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, in charging Hillman, took steps in the right direction but hoped Hillman would also be fired by DOC.

“I just don’t understand why, you know, when you take an oath that you know that you don’t follow it, and could be a captain, of all things, when you know you’re supposed to be the leader, to show what’s right,” Mason said. “So I’m just glad to see the start of justice in, I hope and pray that things will continue that will lead to the firing of her and jail time.”

Attorney for the family of Wilson, Ben Pinczewski, believed that DOC failed Wilson in that he wasn’t given proper mental healthcare while in their custody.

“[Wilson] was held in this institution for minor charges,” Pinczewski said. “ But today we learned the facts and circumstances and saw the callous, depraved, indifference that Captain Hillman showed… She contributed to his death and that’s why we’re here.”

Reverend Kevin McCall was adamant that the arraignment should result in Hillman’s termination from the department and that his organization will not be satisfied until she receives jail time.

“As alleged in the indictment, the death of Ryan Wilson wasn’t just a tragedy — it was a crime,” said Vance. “Our investigation shows that Captain Hillman ordered her subordinates not to take potentially life-saving measures to help Mr. Wilson, and failed to call for medical assistance expediently. This callous disregard for Mr. Wilson’s safety resulted in an irreversible loss to his family and friends, and must be held criminally accountable.”

After Wilson had been hanging for up to 15 minutes, the district attorney’s office alleged that Hillman ordered the cell door opened, emergency medical services were called for.

A faint pulse was detected and chest compressions began, but Wilson died minutes later.

Hillman then allegedly filed an official report that falsely claimed Hillman ordered the detainee cut down immediately leading to an additional charge of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.”

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