By Bill Hutchinson
A Bronx man who spent three years as a teen in Rikers Island enduring beatings by guards and inmates and long stints in solitary confinement without ever being convicted has committed suicide.
Kalief Browder, 21, used an air-conditioning cord to hang himself Saturday at his family’s Bronx home, according to the New Yorker magazine.
“Ma, I can’t take it anymore,” Browder told his mother the night before he took his life.
Browder became a cause célèbre, garnering support from rapper Jay Z and talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell, after his torturous stint at Rikers was exposed. His case prompted Mayor de Blasio to reform the scandal-plague city jail to stop solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-old inmates.
“This case is bigger than Michael Brown,” Browder’s lawyer, Paul Prestia, told the New Yorker, referring to the unarmed black Missouri teen whose shooting death by a white cop in August 2014 sparked national protests.
“When you go over the three years that he spent (in jail) and all the horrific details he endured, it’s unbelievable that this could happen to a teen-ager in New York City,” Prestia said. “He didn’t get tortured in some prison camp in another country. It was right here!”
In May 2010, cops arrested Browder on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx after a teen accused him of robbing him of his backpack.