A New York City corrections captain was charged with negligent homicide on Monday, accused of waiting 15 minutes before issuing orders that could have prevented the death of an inmate who killed himself.
The inmate, Ryan Wilson, died in his cell on Nov. 22 at the Manhattan Detention Complex.
He was upset after Department of Correction Captain Rebecca Hillman ordered him to be moved to another housing unit following an argument with an inmate, according to a press release by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Court documents and statements allege that while the move was pending, Wilson threatened to take his own life if Hillman did not let him out of his cell, the press release states.
An officer, who was not identified, tried to calm Wilson and asked that Hillman immediately come to the housing unit.
“Instead, Hillman went into the control room, where she began filling out paperwork,” the press release states.
After about 10 minutes, Wilson began a countdown and then killed himself. The officer asked for Wilson’s cell door to be opened so he could help but Hillman allegedly said that Wilson was “fine” and “was playing,” according to prosecutors.
“Then, Hillman signaled to the officer in the control room to open the cell. When the door opened one minute later, Hillman ordered the officer not to enter and said that Mr. Wilson was faking it because he was still breathing,” the press release says.
Hillman eventually called for non-emergency backup and ordered the cell to be closed. She “then left the area to go on her usual rounds,” according to prosecutors.
It wasn’t until 15 minutes had passed that Hillman ordered for the cell door to be opened again and called for a medical team.
Wilson had a faint pulse, according to the press release, but by the time medics arrived minutes later he was dead.
An attorney for Wilson’s family did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Hillman, 38, was charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with criminally negligent homicide and also for making false statements in a written account of what happened.
According to prosecutors, Hillman allegedly falsely said in her written account that Wilson had requested to be moved and said that she had “immediately” ordered officers to help him.
She pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Monday. Hillman’s attorney, Kenneth Montgomery, did not immediately respond to a phone call and email for comment.
Montgomery told The Associated Press that his client is a “hardworking mother and employee who did her best in a very difficult job that is defined by trauma and tragedy” and that they “look forward to defending the serious charges against her.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.