Former NYC jail guards avoid prison time for 8-minute delay in helping inmate who attempted suicide

Oct 28, 2023, 12:30 PM | Updated: 1:14 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Two former New York City jail guards have avoided prison time for what authorities called their failure to intervene in a teenage inmate’s suicide attempt for nearly eight minutes until it was too late to save him from serious brain damage in 2019.

Daniel Fullerton and Mark Wilson received conditional discharges after pleading guilty to misdemeanor official misconduct in May and September, respectively, the Daily News reported Friday. They will not serve any time in jail if they stay out of trouble for a year.

Fullerton, Wilson and two other officers were charged in connection with 18-year-old Nicholas Feliciano’s suicide attempt at the Rikers Island jail complex on Nov. 27, 2019. The other officers’ cases remain pending. Feliciano suffered permanent brain damage and needs long-term medical care.

Prosecutors said jail guards were seen on surveillance video walking past Feliciano and taking no action for seven minutes and 51 seconds. An investigation report by the city Board of Correction later found that the officers believed Feliciano was faking a suicide attempt.

The report also says Feliciano had a history of depression and previously had tried to harm himself in jail on multiple occasions. He was at Rikers on a parole violation connected to robbery cases. It recommended several actions, including a system to immediately identify people with prior histories of self-harm while in jail and a reevaluation of mental health training for guards.

The Bronx district attorney’s office issued a statement when the guards were indicted but did not publicly announce Fullerton and Wilson’s guilty pleas and sentences, the Daily News reported. All the guards were initially charged with misdemeanor official misconduct and felony reckless endangerment, which can carry up to seven years in prison.

David Rankin, a lawyer for Feliciano’s family, said they are “gratified” that the two guards took responsibility in pleading guilty. But he added, “It is shocking you can just let someone almost die and you don’t get so much as community service.”

The Bronx district attorney’s office declined to comment.

Contact information for Fullerton and Wilson could not be immediately found in public records Saturday.

Fullerton’s lawyer, Kenneth Montgomery, said Fullerton took immediate action when he saw Feliciano in distress and called the prosecution “heavy-handed.”

“I just thought it was political and overkill,” he said in a phone interview Saturday with The Associated Press.

Information about Wilson’s case and his lawyer was not listed in online court records. Fullerton quit the Correction Department and Wilson was fired, the Daily News reported.

The Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association also has called the officers’ indictments politically motivated and called on prosecutors to charge inmates who assault guards.

The Rikers Island complex has been criticized in multiple reports for inmate deaths, violence, mold and other problems. In August, a federal judge agreed to begin a process that could wrest control of the city’s troubled jail system from Mayor Eric Adams and place a court-appointed outside authority in charge of Rikers Island.

United States News

China’s President Hu Jintao, shakes meets with singer-songwriter, Barbra Streisand, left, and...

Associated Press

Henry Kissinger, secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford, dies at 100

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the diplomat with the thick glasses and gravelly voice who dominated foreign policy as the United States extricated itself from Vietnam and broke down barriers with China, died Wednesday, his consulting firm said. He was 100. With his gruff yet commanding presence and behind-the-scenes manipulation of […]

5 hours ago

File - A truck passes oil pump jacks at dusk near Karnes City, Texas, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. On W...

Associated Press

US economic growth for last quarter is revised up to a 5.2% annual rate

Shrugging off higher interest rates, America's consumers spent enough to help drive the economy to a brisk 5.2% annual pace from July through September.

5 hours ago

Associated Press

A US Navy plane went into a Hawaii bay. Underwater video shows its tires are touching a coral reef

KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (AP) — Tires from a large airplane that’s been stuck in a Hawaii bay for more than a week are resting on parts of a reef, according to video the U.S. Navy released Wednesday as it figures out a plan to remove the aircraft. There were no injuries to the nine people […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Utah Food Bank volunteers load groceries for the needy at a mobile food pantry distribution ...

Associated Press

Total GivingTuesday donations were flat this year, but 10% fewer people participated in the day

NEW YORK (AP) — Nonprofit organization GivingTuesday estimates that donors gave $3.1 billion this year on what has become one of the most important fundraising days of the year — the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Donations were up $20 million on Tuesday, a 0.6% increase over last year before adjusting for inflation, the nonprofit said. GivingTuesday […]

6 hours ago

(Photo by South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images)...

Associated Press

US Navy warship shoots down drone launched by Houthis from Yemen, official says

A U.S. Navy warship sailing near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait shot down a drone launched from Yemen, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Maui officials on standby to stop heavy rains from sending ash into storm drains

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Maui officials were on standby Wednesday to prevent ash from August’s deadly wildfire in Lahaina from flowing into storm drains after forecasters said a winter storm could bring heavy rain and strong winds to the island. The National Weather Service said rain falling at a rate of more than 1 inch […]

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Desert Institute for Spine Care (DISC) wants to help Valley residents address back, neck issues through awake spine surgery

As the weather begins to change, those with back issues can no longer rely on the dry heat to aid their backs. That's where DISC comes in.



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Former NYC jail guards avoid prison time for 8-minute delay in helping inmate who attempted suicide