EAST ELMHURST — The family of a construction worker who died “an agonizingly painful and slow death” after a week at Rikers is suing the city, according to court documents.
A complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Tuesday charges that corrections officers “stood idly by” as Woods was dying of a bleeding ulcer, while fellow inmates pleaded for medical help. By Oct. 1 2014, the day of his death, Woods had 750 ml of blood in his stomach, and was unable to stand or walk, the complaint says.
When he did receive medical treatment from the Rikers health care provider Corizon, he was incorrectly examined and misdiagnosed and was not brought to a hospital, according to the complaint.
The city’s Chief Medical Examiner ruled the death natural, a “gastrointestinal hemorrhage due to peptic ulcer disease,” according to representative Julie Bolcer.
“While it is not our policy to comment on potential/pending litigation, protecting the safety of staff and inmates alike is Commissioner Ponte’s top priority in his ongoing agenda of meaningful reform,” a Department of Correction spokesman said in a statement.
Corizon said through a spokesman that they do not speculate on pending litigation.
Woods, 53, of the Bronx, was arrested for criminal possession of a controlled substance on Sept. 24, 2014. The complaint says Woods was assaulted by NYPD officers during his arrest in Harlem, causing blunt force trauma to his torso and internal organs.
The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Woods, a father of one grown son and step-father to his fiancée's children, was a member of the Sandhogs Local 147 union, according to the family’s lawyer, Carmen Giordano.
Ruthie Woods said her son was well-liked, a “good person to everyone.” She said he had long struggled with his drug use, but that he “didn’t try to harm anyone."
“He used to make us laugh,” she said. “Oh I just miss him, I miss him.”
Woods, 70, said she also wants answers.
“I can’t believe it, I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t know why my son had to die like he did,” she said from her home in Florida.
The city's health department did not respond to a request for comment.