A 20-year-old murder-robbery suspect became the third Rikers Island inmate to die at the facility this month — and the sixth overall death in 2022.
Emanuel Sullivan, 20, was found unconscious and unresponsive while lying on a bed in a housing area within the Robert N. Davoren Center on May 28. According to the Department of Corrections, medical staff immediately provided assistance, but despite their efforts, Sullivan was pronounced dead at about 4:25 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Sullivan had been incarcerated on Rikers Island since Feb. 8 following his arrest on Staten Island on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery. According to the Staten Island Advance, Sullivan and two others were allegedly part of a plot to rob and murder a bodybuilder, Tamer Shaarawy, 38, at his home.
It’s not yet known how Sullivan died; his body was transferred to the Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death, according to the Corrections Department.
Like other in-custody deaths, the state Attorney General’s office and the city’s Department of Investigation are tasked with handling the investigation into why Sullivan died.
“Mr. Sullivan’s passing fills our hearts with grief, as we understand everyone entrusted to our care is someone’s loved one,” said Corrections Department Commissioner Louis Molina in a statement similar to others issued following previous inmate deaths this year. “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his family and loved ones at this difficult time.”
Sullivan was the third inmate to die on Rikers Island this month. On May 7, Dashawn Carter, 25, died of an apparent suicide at the Anna M. Kross Center; a Corrections Department report released two days later indicated there were not enough officers or medical personnel on staff to help prevent the tragedy.
Then, on May 18, Mary Yehudah, 31, died after suffering a medical emergency while being detained at the Rose M. Singer Center.
Sullivan represents the sixth Rikers Island inmate death in 2022. Last year, the facility saw no fewer than 16 inmate deaths amid calls from criminal justice advocates and elected officials to shut the facility down over decrepit conditions and ongoing violence endangering both the incarcerated and corrections officers alike.
The May Rikers Island fatalities occurred as the city and federal government deliberated, and ultimately agreed to, an action plan for reform of Rikers Island.
The plan itself includes steps to “address the immediate risk of harm” to inmates and corrections officers, including revamping “the Department’s leadership structure, to improve the supervision of Department staff at all levels, and to improve staff utilization in the short term.”
Other parts of the plan include clearing away bureaucratic red tape that contributes to processing difficulties on Rikers Island; implementing a new staff management system at Rikers Island; improving security practices and managing people in custody; and improving compliance and reporting.
Still, the latest death on Rikers outraged Victor Pate, co-director of the #HALTsolidarity Campaign and a Rikers Island survivor.
“It is beyond heartbreaking that we continue to hear about the many fully preventable deaths that continue to happen on Rikers Island. How many more people will die before our public officials will finally start releasing people, stop sending people to these deadly jails, and do something to change the horrible conditions?” Pate said in a statement sent to amNewYork Metro. “While the City sets up committees and develops supposed plans, our people keep dying. We do not need more committees, more task forces, or more plans to address conditions, which are well documented and deadly. We need action to decarcerate and we need our electeds to make decisions that will keep incarcerated people and staff alive, safe, and healthy.”