STATEN ISLAND — The NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau is probing the suicide of a 57-year-old man who hung himself with his own belt in a police holding cell on Staten Island, officials said.
The unidentified man was in custody on charges of trespassing and resisting arrest after being found inside the West New Brighton restaurant El Torido at 1007 Castelton Ave. about 11 p.m. on Thursday, police said.
Four hours later, police found him hanging from his belt in a jail cell at the 120th Precinct. He was taken to Richmond University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 3:16 a.m. Friday, police said.
Police regulations dictate that prisoners' shoelaces and belts are removed to prevent suicides while in lockup, the NYPD said.
Police said the man was arrested after he was caught sleeping in El Torido, but the restaurant's owner said he called the cops because the man, a barber who lived nearby, had a history of stealing from the eatery.
"He went inside to steal, but it wasn't the first time," said Nery Mendez, 29, who has owned the restaurant for a year. "This was the fourth or fifth time. I didn't want to call the police, I tried to talk to him. I said if you need something ask me. I talk to him. But he do it all the time."
Mendez said he finally called police when he spotted the man in the restaurant's basement Thursday evening, after previous incidents in which Mendez said the man had stolen five cases of beer and a computer.
"I tried to be nice to him before but he don't listen," Mendez said. "I don't know what to say. I feel bad."