Correction Officers, Captain Suspended After Death of Gay Man at Rikers

Three individuals within the Department of Correction have been suspended following the death of Esias “Izzy” Johnson.
Tracy Johnson

The Department of Correction (DOC) has suspended a captain and two correction officers as part of an investigation into the death of out gay 24-year-old Esias “Izzy” Johnson at Rikers on September 7, according to an agency spokesperson.

The suspensions were handed down after Johnsons’ family and their attorney told Gay City News that he was experiencing stomach pain in the time leading up to his death but received no medical assistance.

“Inmates said he had been screaming all night for help, and come morning time, he couldn’t get out of bed,” Johnson’s mother, Tracy Johnson, told Gay City News in September. “He never got out of bed for breakfast.”

According to the DOC, suspensions were issued in response to evidence at the time of the incident, and formal charges — if warranted — would be formalized when the investigation is complete. New York City’s chief medical examiner has yet to determine a cause of death.

Johnson, who had Aspergers Syndrome, had spent a month trying to get out of Rikers following a misdemeanor arrest in the city, but the family’s attorney, Jamie Santana, said he was restricted from release due to a separate case stemming from New Jersey. Still, Johnson’s mother told Gay City News that jail officials failed to bring Johnson to his court appointments, further dragging out what ended up being a fatal month-long stay at Rikers.

“He said he had problems with his court dates,” Johnson’s mother said last month. “He wasn’t being taken to them… He said, ‘I’m missing court dates like crazy, mom, they’re not doing anything.’”

Johnson’s family is awaiting the results of a toxicology report and Santana is vowing to pursue legal action.

“We do believe that Rikers was negligent with respect to the duty of care,” Santana told Gay City News on September 20.

Johnson’s funeral took place on September 25 in his hometown of Haverhill, Massachusetts, where he was born and raised.