Mr. Karim was held in an intake cell for 10 days, his lawyers and Ms. Huff Bullock said. He had scant access to food and was denied medication, they said. Jail and correctional health officials did not immediately respond to questions about the allegations.
“‘They’re not feeding us,’” Ms. Huff Bullock recalled him saying during a phone call. “‘I don’t know what’s going on. They are treating us like animals; worse than animals.’”
At his preliminary hearing on the parole violation on Aug. 31, Ms. McEvilley said his lawyers asked for an early release, citing his deteriorating health. The hearing was cut short, she said, after Mr. Karim suffered an asthma attack. He was scheduled to return for an arraignment on Sept. 27.
But advocates for incarcerated people said Mr. Karim should never have been detained.
“He should have been in the community with his family, friends and network, not in a jail plagued by an ongoing humanitarian crisis,” said Tina Luongo, the attorney in charge of the Legal Aid Society’s criminal defense practice. “Technical violations — including marijuana use and failing to report, the noncriminal charges that led to Mr. Karim’s remand — should not amount to a death sentence.”
In the days before his death, Mr. Karim had slipped and fallen in a shower and later complained of chest pain, Ms. Huff Bullock said other detainees told her. She said doctors had planned to perform an X-ray, but never did. By Sunday, Mr. Karim had complained that his chest pain had worsened, Ms. Huff Bullock said. He died in a medical clinic in the North Infirmary Command at 7:25 p.m.
“They were really playing Russian roulette with him,” Ms. Huff Bullock said through tears. “They allowed him to die.”
She blamed Mayor Bill de Blasio and jail officials for not doing more to save Mr. Karim and castigated correction officers, some of whom have been accused of calling in sick to avoid having to work. Nearly a third of the jail system’s officers have been out sick or otherwise unable to work with detainees.
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