Vigil for woman left to die in Brooklyn cell

A protester holds photos of 37-year-old Kyan Livingston who died in a Brooklyn Central Booking cell.
Photo by Lem Peterkin

It was the pure insensitive mindset of the NYPD that may have caused the death of 37-year-old Kyam Livingston in a Brooklyn Central Booking Cell on July 21, 2013. NYPD’s persistent insensitive and reckless behaviors towards people of color fuel deaths and as long as people are continuously being treated like cattle and herded into these institutions these episodes will occur.

Several cases of unnecessary deaths at the hands of NYPD continue to permeate the news and showcase a blatant disregard for Black and Hispanic life. And that gut wrenching, blood curdling wail of a mother, symbolizing the affect of death and pain, pierced the core of every human soul and filled the air around the courthouse at 120 Schermerhorn St., as family, friends and clergy held a vigil on Aug. 22 and again in the Flatbush community on Saturday afternoon, to mark the one month and two anniversary of Kyam Livingston’s death. Anita Neal mourned for her daughter Kyam who was arrested on July 20 by officers from the 70th Precinct. According to witnesses, Kyam was processed and taken to Central Booking. While there, she became increasingly ill with stomach pains, diarrhea and eventual convulsions over a seven hour period. Cell mates pleaded for hours with NYPD for someone to come to her aid. Kyam may have been dead for twenty minutes before Emergency Medical Services finally arrived on the scene.

Many families at the vigil were victims of NYPD insensitivity, having lost sons and daughters too. They vowed to keep protesting until a change comes. They identified with Anita Neal and her statement, “I am doing it for you Kyam. I want to make sure who ever did it to you pays. The persons who did this should come forward, what are you there for if you can’t help someone in pain? What did she do? She was in pain, she asked for help. Nobody will rest until I get justice for Kyam. My daughter will not die for nothing…Sorry I wasn’t there Kyam, I would have helped you..I love you Kyam….”

Family Attorney Elliot H. Taub and Criminal Defense Attorney Jay Schwitzman talked about the abhorrent conditions in central Booking. Attorney Schwitzman, who worked with clients in the building for twenty-five years, was appalled at the labels that are being used to describe their deceased client. She is accused of being an alcoholic and one who suffered from seizures, which the family vehemently denies.

Many times, much insensitivity is exhibited by the police when they interact with people of color.

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