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Brooklyn family demanding answers from NYPD for relative who died while in custody

Khorri Atkinson | 9/23/2013, 11:14 a.m.
Kyam Livingston's mother, Anita Neal seeking answers for her daughter's death. Photo by Khorri Atkinson

Kyam Livingston died while in custody at Brooklyn Central Bookings Jail after officers ignored her pleas for medical attention. Two months later her enraged family members are still demanding answers about her death from Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

“I need justice for my daugher,” the weeping mother, Anita Neal exclaimed, as her uncontrollable emotion punctuate an eerie of silence at a rally and march at the intersection of church Avenue and 18th street on Saturday. Passbyes stared and motorists looked through their windows to see what was happening. “I will not give up. We need the names of the officers who were involved,” she said.

Livingston was arrested on July 19 after violating an order of protection taken out by her 78-year-old grandmother, Theresa Johnson, who she lived with. Johnson said she called the cops after Livingston drank a bottle of vodka and turned violent. Livingston broke two TV remote controls and two tables. Livingston was taken into custody but no charges were filed against her.

Aleah Holland, an inmate who was later in a cell with Livingston, told The New York Daily News that Livingston was crying about stomach pains and diarrhea and asked the officers for hours to allow her to get medical attention.

“They said, ‘Shut up before we lose your paperwork and you won’t be seen by a judge,” Holland said.

The victim was reportedly dead for 20 minutes before the medical personnel arrived the morning of July 21. However, NYPD officials claimed that Livingston was pronounced dead at Brooklyn Hospital Center.

Livingston was working as a security guard at Elite Investigations, an investigative security and protection agency, according to an identification card her mother had at the rally.

As family members continue to demand answers, Livingston’s 21-year-old son, Alex Livingston, says he had a “friendship relationship” with his mother, and has no choice other than to be strong for his family.

“I’m the only one that is stable. I’m just trying to control myself emotionally and keep it together for everyone including myself," he said. “I know there will be justice. We will do everything that is needed to make it happen.”

Livingston's family has now launched a petition calling for:

  • The release of a video surveillance footage of the environs during the time she was in police custody
  • The immediate release of the names of the officers and cell attendants that were on duty at the time of her death
  • The criminal prosecution of the officers who denied Kyam’s called for medical attention
  • A complete and thorough investigation of the New York City Central Bookings system and the conditions in its holding cells.

At the protests for these demands on Sunday more than one hundred brooklyn residents from minority communities, grassroots and civil rights organization leaders, elected officials and Livingston’s family members chanted “We need justice for Kyam Livingston, ignored and killed at the Bookings cell!”

Brooklyn Councilman Mathieu Eugene expressed his disappointment about the way the situation has been handled by the NYPD and called for a thorough investigation. He told family members that he will do whatever within in jurisdiction to ensure that an investigation is done.