The family of a transgender woman who died at Rikers Island has settled a lawsuit with New York City.
As previously reported Layleen Polanco also known as Layleen Xtravaganza, died June 7, 2019, in her cell at the Rose M. Singer women’s facility of a reported epileptic seizure. Originally details surrounding her death were skimpy and staffers reported that efforts to revive her were “unsuccessful.” Later video footage was released showing Rikers Island staffers laughing as the “woman they thought was sleeping” was seemingly in duress.
Staffers also admitted that they left Polanco alone for up to 47 minutes around the time of her death, “a violation of corrections policy requiring checks on prisoners in solitary confinement every 15 minutes.”
Now Polanco’s family will receive a $5.9 million settlement, a record amount for an inmate death in New York City, according to THE CITY.
“This settlement will allow Layleen’s family to move forward without enduring years of protracted litigation and reliving their trauma,” Polanco’s family lawyer, David Shanies, said in a statement to THE CITY. “Achieving the largest settlement in the city’s history for a death in jail should serve as a powerful statement that trans lives matter.”
Polanco’s sister, Melania Brown, said the settlement was “not a substitute” for the firing of city correction officers involved in the chain of events that ended with her sister’s death.
“This is just the beginning of justice for my sister, this is not even close to being justice for her,” Brown said to THE CITY. ”Justice would be holding those people who had something to do with my sister’s death accountable for their actions.”
Layleen was being held at Rikers after not being able to afford her $500 bail. CNN reports that she was arrested in April last year on misdemeanor charges of assault and harassment, then taken into custody for missing court dates.