Almost three years after he entered Rikers Island to await his court date on a robbery charge, 26-year-old Gilberto Garcia died in custody on Monday, the city Department of Correction said.
Garcia was being held at the Anna M. Kross Center when he was pronounced dead at around 12:50 p.m., officials said. He entered city custody on Nov. 2, 2019, on a first-degree robbery charge, the Department of Correction said. His cause of death was still under investigation on Monday evening.
“We send our deepest condolences to Mr. Garcia’s loved ones and family at this difficult time,” DOC Commissioner Louis A. Molina said in a statement. “As with every death that occurs in custody, we will conduct a preliminary investigation into the cause and circumstances.”
The city medical examiner’s office did not immediately return a request seeking comment.
Garcia is the 18th detainee to die this year in custody or shortly after being released. The Department of Correction, however, recorded Garcia’s death as the 16th in custody this year because its official tally excludes people who received compassionate release shortly before their deaths.
The death comes after a federal monitor overseeing the jails system said Rikers Island jails continued to be “patently unsafe” and “trapped in a state of persistent dysfunction.”
The conditions at Rikers Island have consistently made headlines over the past year, including when reporting by Gothamist showed images of what people in custody endure. The attention has led to growing cries from city officials for reform at the complex.
Contributed reporting by Matt Katz.