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Black Lives Matter Coalition Call For Justice In Death Of Fishkill Prison Inmate

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A large group of area residents, members of the Hudson Valley Black Lives Matter Coalition and members of Samuel Harrell’s family marched down Market Street in Poughkeepsie to the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office Thursday.

 

Harrell, a black prisoner at Fishkill Correctional Facility, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was killed at the prison, reportedly by corrections officers.

Harrell died on April 21 when up to 20 officers, in a group called the “Beat Up Squad”, allegedly shouted racial slurs as they beat him and threw down a flight of stairs.

Natajah Roberts of Citizen Action New York said the group demands immediate action.

“Since Samuel Harrell has been killed, many inmates who saw the incident have been threatened, have been put in solitary and have been told not to say anything about what they saw,” Roberts said. “We are here to demand justice and specifically to demand that the DA file homicide charges.”

District Attorney William Grady has not yet filed charges against anyone at the prison and the protested called on him to do so, but he announced Thursday that his office will conduct a joint investigation into Harrell’s death along with the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

“The very nature of this case calls for a full, fair and objective investigation into not only potential law violations but constitutional violations as well,” Grady said. “Over the past several days, I have discussed these issues with prosecutors from the office of Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Given the expertise of that office in this area, we have agreed to conduct a joint investigation of this case.”

“I will always remember Sam as a kind, loving, sensitive man who cared deeply for his friends and family,” said Diana in her statement. “I cannot bear the thought of my husband’s last few minutes of life. I cannot help but visualize his beaten body.”Harrell’s widow, Diana, had a statement read at the protest.

Jimmy Miller of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association said “no member has been placed on leave or suspended as a result of an investigation that is now in its fifth month.” He said the union would “review all the facts before rushing to lodgment.”

Miller said according to recent statistics, the assault rate on staff at Fishkill is twice the average of all other medium security prisons in the state. “Correctional facilities in our state are too violent, and the men and women of NYSCOPBA have advocated for a host of solutions to this problem for many years,” Miller said.

Report from Midhudsonnews.com

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