Family demands answers after trans woman dies at Rikers Island
NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - A sea of faces as diverse as New York demanded justice for Layleen Polanco Xtravaganza, a trans woman of color who died in mysterious circumstances over the weekend in her cell at Rikers Island.
Layleen was being held on $500 bail in connection with a misdemeanor charge against her and was supposed to be released in the coming days.
Her family said she was put in solitary after some sort of altercation with a correction officer.
But the Department of Correction said it does not have so-called solitary confinement for women. Instead they said, Layleen was placed in a restrictive housing unit after she hurt another person in custody. The department said that restricted housing units allow inmates to get access to up to seven hours a day of programs or services and entertainment.
"This is a tragic loss and we extend our deepest condolences to her family," Commissioner Cynthia Brann said in a statement. "We are conducting a full investigation as the safety and well-being of people in our custody is our top priority."
Just days prior to her death, she was hospitalized for a seizure disorder. What happened after that is unclear.
But her family wants answers and is demanding a full investigation, their lawyer said. Family members said they will determine their next steps based on what is found.
Layleen is reportedly the 10th trans woman of color to die in custody this year. Her death struck a chord with the LGBTQ community and with those demanding Rikers be closed for good.