Nepali man’s death in Rikers prompts NYC report on officer negligence

December 4, 2023 By admin Off

A correction officer responsible for checking cells on Rikers Island failed to properly tour the jail unit where a Nepali man died of a suspected drug overdose, the city Board of Correction says in a preliminary report obtained by the Daily News. The officer didn’t do required rounds and check inside each cell with a flashlight over three predawn hours Oct. 5 before Manish Kunwar, 27, was found dead in his cell in a mental health observation unit. The officer was suspended, and a correction captain was placed on desk duty following Kunwar’s death. The records also show there was no suicide prevention aide on the observation unit when Kunwar died. A suicide prevention aide is a detainee responsible for checking the unit’s cells. Because there was no such aide, the unit’s floor officer was supposed to tour every 15 minutes. For hours, those tours didn’t happen, says the Board of Correction report. Kunwar was finally discovered at 5:37 a.m. when other officers arrived to distribute breakfast and knocked on Kunwar’s cell door, the report said.

Manish Kunwar, a Nepali man who died in a Rikers Island jail on Oct. 5.

They could not see inside the cell because Kunwar had placed a sheet over a window. Medical staff arrived within five minutes and gave him four doses of Narcan, but it was too late. He was pronounced dead at 6:20 a.m., but he likely had died much earlier. A search of Kunwar’s housing area conducted 12 hours after his death found no contraband, the report said. The city medical examiner’s office has yet to issue a cause of death. Correction Department spokeswoman Annais Morales declined comment on the Board of Correction report, saying an investigation was ongoing. Following the suicide of Erick Tavira in October 2022, it was revealed there were no suicide prevention aides checking cells in Tavira’s unit as well. Kunwar’s death was the ninth and most recent in the jails in 2023, following 19 in 2022 and 16 in 2021. He immigrated to the Big Apple from Nepal in 2016 after winning a diversity visa, a relative previously told The News.