Harlem resident Apolinar Solis, 51, was arrested on drug possession charges on October 18th and spent the next four weeks in jail on Rikers Island until he finally died in custody. Solis, a diabetic who was legally blind and received dialysis treatment three times a week, occasionally smoked marijuana to help increase his appetite, according to his sister Marisol Solis. "That was the only way he could get an appetite so he could eat," she told the Times. Solis also had difficultly keeping his balance, which may have contributed to his fatal fall at the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building.
Solis was at the building for a court appearance on Wednesday when he reportedly fell and cracked his skull; his attorney Ilya Novofastovsky tells the Daily News, "He fell down the stairs really badly. Some of the details are still foggy." After surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Solis died on Friday.
Robin Campbell, a spokesman for the Department of Correction, confirmed that Solis was injured while in Office of Court Administration custody, and said "the matter is under investigation." A spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner has not yet responded to a request for information about the cause of death.
Solis had been held at an infirmary on Rikers since his arrest. Novofastovsky tells us Solis was arrested on a low-level narcotics possession charge. Asked for details about the charge, Novofastovsky said he hadn't yet seen the criminal complaint and that even Solis's family wasn't sure about the details of his arrest. Novofastovsky confirmed that Solis occasionally smoked pot. "He didn't want to bother his family and he expected to be released on the date this hearing was scheduled for," Novofastovsky told us.
"The family is looking for answers," Novofastovsky said. "What we're trying to get to is transparency from officials. The family wasn't even told he was in the hospital until somebody from the hospital tipped them off. And when they had questions for the powers that be, they were met with silence. It's been very frustrating. Their loved one was manhandled and died, and they simply want an explanation and information about what his last moments were like."