(NEW YORK) — BY: LUKE BARR
An inmate died Wednesday after being pepper sprayed while in his cell at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, the Bureau of Prisons announced.
A source familiar with the investigation told ABC News that the inmate died of a heart attack. The bureau said that the death is not COVID-19 related.
The inmate, Jamel Floyd, was being “disruptive and potentially harmful to himself and others” after he barricaded himself inside his cell and broke the cell-door window with a metal object, the BOP said.
That is when staff pepper sprayed the inmate, according to the bureau.
“Per protocol, institution medical staff immediately responded to assess the inmate, found Mr. Floyd to be unresponsive, and instantly initiated life-saving measures. Staff requested Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and life-saving efforts continued. Mr. Floyd was transported by EMS to a local hospital and subsequently pronounced dead by hospital staff. There is no indication that this death was related to COVID-19,” a statement released by the bureau said.
A source familiar with the investigation told ABC News that Floyd was “ripping apart” the cell.
The source said that a use-of-force team was put together, and that before going into the cell they tried commands from different individuals from a captain to the psychology department. The source said that they checked the inmate’s medical history to make sure he wasn’t allergic to the spray before proceeding.
Officers spray inmates so that they don’t have to go inside the cell and extract him and risk injury, the source said.
The incident is now the subject of a Department of Justice inspector general investigation.
“In conducting the investigation, we will coordinate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which initially responded to the incident according to standard protocol and with which the DOJ OIG frequently works on incidents in BOP facilities,” DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said. “Consistent with DOJ OIG and Department of Justice policy, we will be unable to provide further information until the investigation is complete, at which time we will publicly disclose our findings to the greatest extent possible, consistent with applicable laws.”
The New York medical examiner said in a statement that she is conducting the autopsy.
“We are in the process of investigating the death of Jamel Floyd on June 3, 2020. Mr. Floyd was an incarcerated individual at Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn (a federal facility), and the investigation of his death falls under the jurisdiction of our office as outlined in the New York City Charter. We will complete a thorough, independent investigation firmly rooted in science and medicine,” Dr. Barbara Sampson said.
“If requested by the decedent’s family, we will permit a licensed pathologist to observe any autopsy performed, a long-standing practice of this office,” she added. “As is also our standard practice, we will release our official findings to the public directly.”
In September, the DOJ’s inspector general found that MDC, which left 1,700 inmates in below-freezing temperatures after a fire last year, had “longstanding” problems with its heating system, according to the results of the review.
“We determined that heating issues had been a longstanding problem at the jail that existed before, during, and after the fire and power outage and were unrelated to these events,” said Horowitz, adding, “Rather, they were the result of the facility’s lack of proper equipment to continuously monitor temperatures, which the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) was aware of and had not addressed,” Horowitz said.
ABC News’ Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.
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