DN! speaks with family members who have just concluded a five-day hunger strike marking the first anniversary of the death of Samuel Harrell, who died after as many as 20 corrections officers kicked, punched and threw him down a flight of stairs while he was incarcerated at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon, New York. An autopsy report determined the African-American man’s death was a homicide caused by a "physical altercation with corrections officers." Some of the officers were known around the prison as the Beat Up Squad. The superintendent at Fishkill, William J. Connolly, abruptly resigned in the weeks after the incident, and both the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. District Attorney’s Office have launched investigations into the case. But more than a year later, no one has been charged in Samuel Harrell’s death, and the correctional officers involved in the assault are still working at the prison. Harrell’s father, Samuel Harrell Sr., and sister, Cerissa, discuss why they want the officers "held accountable, just like any other citizen," and how they are calling for body cameras to be used in correctional facilities and for guards to receive better training for de-escalating misunderstandings and dealing with people who have mental illnesses.
Sign up for Our Newsletter
Get updates about the policies and topics that matter the most to you. Progressive news directly to your email.