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$2.8 Million Settlement in New York Pretrial Detainee’s Suicide

The morning of January 23, 2013, started innocently for Franqui. He called friend Simon Earl with the desire to go over to his house to show off a 1972 Cadillac El Dorado he’d just purchased. Franqui popped the hood so Simon could look at the engine.

A half-hour after he arrived at 10:45 a.m., someone called the Suffolk County Police Department to report a suspicious vehicle. Officer Karen Grenia accelerated down Simon’s street and abruptly stopped her patrol vehicle at a 45-degree angle in front of Simon’s home. She exited the vehicle with gun drawn, ordering Simon “to get down on his knees, get down on the ground, raise his arms, and not move.” She gave Franqui inconsistent orders, telling him to get out of the car and then to put his hands on the steering wheel and not move them or she would shoot him.

Simon was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car once back-up arrived. No drugs or weapons were found on him. Police also illegally entered Simon’s home and conducted a search until a contractor working in the house asked if they had a warrant. Simon was subsequently released.

Franqui, however, was arrested. A search of his person and vehicle uncovered no drugs or weapons. His miniature Doberman pincher was seized. In making the arrest, police used excessive force on Franqui, causing “blunt impact injuries” to his head, torso, and upper and lower extremities.

He was taken to the Seventh Precinct in Suffolk County and charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence after admitting he had smoked a joint about 30 minutes earlier, resisting arrest, and obstructing government administration for allegedly siccing his dog on Grenia, which Simon disputes ever occurred.

When being booked, it was noted that Franqui was being treated for anxiety. He was subsequently placed into a “bitterly cold” holding cell with a thin blanket. He was wearing his jeans, T-shirt, and socks. Over the next few hours, Franqui begged for medical care and said that he would be leaving the cell in a “body bag” if he was not provided care.

Guards ignored the pleas for medical care. Franqui stuck his head in the toilet and banged his head against the wall as he begged for help. He used the issued blanket to fashion a noose and tied it around the bars. Guards removed it and took no action to place Franqui under closer observation or to obtain medical help.

Around 5:40 p.m., Franqui, 26, used his pants to create a noose and hanged himself from the cell bars. When guards found him at around 6:20, no attempt was made to resuscitate him. Following his death, police gave the public false statements about the circumstances of his death, Newsday reported.

His estate sued, seeking damages for Franqui’s illegal arrest, false prosecution and failure to provide medical care and to follow procedures on suicide prevention. Franqui’s estate was represented by attorney Anthony Grandinette. See: Franqui v. County of Suffolk, USDC, E.D. New York, Case No. 2:13-cv-05943-JS-SIL. 

 

Additional source: newsday.com

Related legal case

Franqui v. County of Suffolk