Kalief Browder, the Bronx teenager held in Rikers Island jail for over 1,000 days without a trial or conviction, died by suicide at his family home on Saturday.
"Ma, I can’t take it anymore," his mother recounted him saying the night before, The New Yorker reported
Browder was just 16 years old when he was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack in 2010. His family, unable to raise $10,000 for his bail, saw his court dates continually delayed. He was eventually set free in 2013 as the charges were dropped.
During his time in prison, Browder said he was beaten by corrections officers, kept in solitary confinement for extended periods, and tried to commit suicide several times. Video footage later emerged that seemed to confirm that he was brutalized by those sworn to protect him.
His high-profile case led Mayor Bill de Blasio to call for speedier processing of accused criminals, and led to him meeting and gaining the support of rapper Jay-Z, as well as Rosie O'Donnell.
Six months after he left Rikers, Browder attempted suicide, and was soon taken to the psychiatric ward at St. Barnabas Hospital. After dropping in and out of Bronx Community College — where an anonymous donor offered to paid his tuition — Browder seemed to be stabilizing, his family said, however he was soon found dead at his parents' home.
The Washington Post reported
that Sen. Rand Paul has been a longtime advocate of Browder's, and offered his condolences upon hearing of his death, both online and off.
"When you see people and you see some of this anger at people in the streets and you’re like, 'Why are they so unhappy?' Think about Kalief Browder and think about how his friends must feel about American justice, how his parents must feel and about how his community feels," Paul said Saturday in New Hampshire.
"If we become the party that cares about the Sixth Amendment as much as we do the Second Amendment, we’re going to dominate," he added.
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