Family Of Ailing Woman Who Died In Holding Cell When NYPD Cops Ignored 7-Hours Cry For Help, Demand Answers
Anita Neal, Kyam's mother, and Ashanta, the sister, shown at an earlier protest, in August
Two months after Kyam Livingston died in police custody on July 21 at Brooklyn Central Booking, her family renewed their call for justice, demanding answers from outgoing Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Those demonstrating today in Brooklyn included community leaders, elected officials and Livingston family members, who chanted “No Justice! No Peace!” while holding photos of the 37-year-old mother, who died in police custody, a day after her arrest.
Her family and supporters demanded that the names of the New York Police Department (NYPD) officers responsible be publicly released so that they are held accountable.
“When the police shoot and kill someone, we always hear about what happened to the officers. Usually they are suspended or put on desk duty,” said Anita Neal, Kyam Livingston’s mother. “In my daughter's case we have no information about what the NYPD did to discipline the officers responsible for her death. After sitting there and letting someone beg for help for hours only to die, they shouldn't be in the same positions of power. Instead of questioning me about my family, the media and others should be questioning the NYPD about these officers.”
Ashanta Livingston, the sister of the dead woman, echoed this demand. "I want the police involved in Kyam's death to be dealt with," she said.
According to fellow cell-mates of Livingston, she became increasingly ill with stomach pains, diarrhea, and eventually convulsions over the course of seven hours while in Brooklyn Central Booking awaiting arraignment.
Witnesses report that on-duty NYPD officers ignored Livingston and other inmates as they pleaded for hours for someone to come to her aid. One witness who is a registered nurse said Livingston had been dead for 20 minutes before Emergency Medical Services finally arrived on the scene.
“New York City's holding cells resemble a medieval dungeon rather then a modern jail facility,” said Jay Schwitzman, President of the Kings County Criminal Bar Association. “The unsanitary conditions and callousness of the police officers that were guarding Kyam Livingston resulted in her senseless death.”
“New York City police officers are hired, trained and expected to protect the public,” said Elliot Taub, one of the family’s lawyers. “Ignoring cries for medical assistance by anyone in need, regardless of their situation or status, is simply not an option. Kyam Livingston’s predicament is indicative of just how badly the criminal justice system is need of immediate review and repair.”
“We demand the names of those responsible for Kyam’s death,” said Loyda Colon, the Co-Director of Justice Committee. “All New Yorkers should join us in this demand. If police officers are allowed to abuse individuals in their custody as they did Kyam, and do so with impunity, no one is safe.”
“I join the family of Ms. Kyam Livingston in calling for transparency and cooperation by the NYPD regarding her tragic death at Central Booking,” said Council Member Letitia James, and a leading candidate for Public Advocate. “The assertion that Ms. Livingston's medical pleas were ignored is deeply troubling, and I join the many voices calling for justice.”
Livingston’s family members and supporters announced the launch of a petition campaign targeting Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. They are demanding the names of the officers responsible for Kyam’s death and reform of the Brooklyn Central Bookings System.
The petition can be found at causes.com/justice-for-kyam