July 28, 2021

‘They pepper-sprayed him to death’: Mom of dead prisoner speaks out

The Justice Department inspector general has launched an investigation into the death of a federal inmate who lost consciousness after corrections officers pepper-sprayed him at a New York detention center.

Jamel Floyd, 35, died Wednesday after a fracas at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, the federal Bureau of Prisons said.

The incident began about 10 a.m. when Floyd barricaded himself inside his cell and used a metal object to break the cell-door window, the agency said.
Floyd “became increasingly disruptive and potentially harmful to himself and others,” the bureau said, prompting officers to deploy pepper spray to subdue him.

Floyd became unresponsive and was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the bureau said.

“My son has asthma and they pepper-sprayed him to death,” said his mother, Donna Mays, who spoke to NBC News by phone Thursday while she was protesting outside the Metropolitan Detention Center.

“We have no answers. The facility still hasn’t contacted us.”

In a statement Thursday, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said his office is investigating the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death.

New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said her office is investigating Floyd’s death.

“We will complete a thorough, independent investigation firmly rooted in science and medicine,” Sampson said.

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