Rikers doctors accused in the death of a detainee by attempting to stop a drug withdrawal plan
NEW YORK -- A new lawsuit alleges that Rikers Island doctors failed to implement a plan to relieve a Rikers Island prisoner with psychiatric issues from prescription drugs. This led to a...
In an effort to reduce his dependence on clonazepam, Malcolm Boatwright (28), was placed by Correctional Health Services on the withdrawal plan in November 2021.
Benzodiazepines can be used to treat anxiety, seizures, and severe insomnia.
Boatwright died three weeks later, Dec. 7, 2021 after he had allegedly completed the tapering program. He was one of 35 people who died in Department of Correction custody between 2021 and 2022.
According to records from a Bellevue Hospital physician who treated Boatwright, he had never been diagnosed with epilepsy or seizure disorder. His family requested the medical records of Correctional Health Services, a city agency that provides medical care for detainees. Instead, they received a file that was heavily edited.
These allegations are contained in a $10 Million lawsuit filed last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court by Lashawn Boatwright's mom against the Correction Department, five medical staffers, and Boatwright.
Malcolm Boatwright, the fourth of eight children, was raised in Brownsville. He displayed signs of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. She said that his father died from an aneurysm at the age of 12 or 13. This trauma was not fully healed.
Malcolm Boatwright and six of his seven brothers, as well as his one sister. From L to R: Kenneth Boatwright and Rodney Boatwright; Malcolm Boatwright and Malik Boatwright; Precious Boatwright and Malik Boatwright; Marquis Boatwright and Isiah Frazier; Derrick Jones.
The judge ordered Boatwright to undergo a special psychiatric assessment at his arraignment for the sex abuse charges. Boatwright arrived in Rikers on November 12.
During a required physical, Boatwright told the doctor that he had been prescribed lithium and clonazepam." I was told he was sent back to jail to be evaluated. The mother of the detainee said that this never happened." I don't understand why it took so long for him being evaluated. They just left him there and threw him in the trash." November 13th, Malcolm Boatwright was placed on the Rikers medical staff's tapering program to wean him from benzodiazepines. This tapering program is supposed to gradually reduce the dosage as per Correctional Health Services policy in order to protect the lives and safety of other detainees who have similar dependences." He said, "Ma, the corrections officers is being mean to you. I told him that I am sick and I don't feel well. She quoted her son as saying that all she kept saying was "I want to lay down, I want to lay down." Hannah Conn, a Bellevue physician, concluded in her notes that Boatwright's seizure problems were caused by Boatwright's withdrawal from the tapering program.
Boatwright was also seen by two more Bellevue doctors. They did not observe any signs of a third seizure. He was unresponsive at 4:36 AM on Dec. 10. Bellevue doctors attempted to revive him but he died at 5 :36 AM.The city Medical Examiner determined that he died from natural causes -- "complications o nontraumatic seizure disorder undetermined etiology". This means that pathologists cannot determine what caused the fatal seizure.
Watts said that 490 pages of medical records were given to him, and it was all redacted. He plans to apply for a court order to remove the unredacted documents." I said, "Hey, you cannot do this"... They have ignored me." Watts stated that Wanda Roberts was the Correctional Health Services' director for medical records and had told Watts she'd been given an order to redact the records. Watts stated that there was a conscious effort made to redact the records, while Bellevue did not.