The Staten Island District Attorney last week charged a supervisor at a local state-run psychiatric facility of criminally negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person. The employee pleaded not guilty.
The worker, Erik Stanley, 37, of Middletown, NJ, was attempting to subdue an autistic patient, Jawara Henry, 27, after an unruly episode. Mr. Henry had not been able to talk since childhood, and although he was not prone to violence, his parents believe he may have been frustrated with his communicative difficulty. At the time of the event, he was, "agitated and aggressive and was biting staff and other patients," according to the DA. Mr. Stanley responded by applying excessive pressure to Henry's neck and torso. Henry was later ruled dead by asphyxiation due to chest and neck compression. Moreover, Stanley allegedly broke protocol by not waiting for back-up.
The incident occurred on December 4 of last year at South Beach Psychiatric Center. After an 8-month investigation, Stanley surrendered himself. After pleading not guilty, he was released without bail last week.
The family of the victim is glad that the criminal system is doing something. They are now preparing to file a civil lawsuit against Mr. Stanley and against the greater psychiatric "system."
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