Bronx prosecutors have told the family of a teen fatally beaten in a city jail last month — whose case is covered in the current Voice — that they will take the case to a grand jury shortly after Thanksgiving.
Relatives of the slain teen, Christopher Robinson, met with prosecutors from the Bronx District Attorney’s office yesterday, and spoke briefly with the media afterward.
Robinson, 18, died from internal bleeding Oct. 18 after he was jumped by at least three gang members in the Robert N. Davoren Center, the adolescent holding facility on the sprawling Rikers Island jail complex.
Prosecutors told the family they are focusing first on the inmates who assaulted Robinson, and then they will examine the role of correction staff in the incident.
Investigators are trying to determine whether guards were aware the beating was taking place and did nothing to stop it. Several officers have been transferred. Two have been placed on modified assignment.
The case has also raised questions about why Robinson was placed in that unit after an altercation with another gang member, and why he did not receive medical attention until he was discovered unconscious in his cell many hours after the assault.
“I am holding on and hoping for justice for my son,” said the teen’s mother,
Bishop Wilbur Jones told reporters that a correction chaplain initially told the family that the teen had had a fatal asthma attack. “Why would they say that when they already knew that he had been beaten?” Jones said. “It leads you to believe there was a cover-up.”
Robinson’s grandmother Shaunetta issued a plea for anyone with information about the incident to step forward. The family said they would try to meet with Correction Commissioner Martin Horn and the inspector general who investigates staff wrongdoing.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 20, 2008