City paid $1.25 million to family of Canarsie man who hanged himself in custody

August 1, 2019 Noah Goldberg
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The city paid out more than a million dollars in June to the mother and daughters of a Brooklyn man who hanged himself in police custody in 2016, court records and data released Wednesday by the NYPD show.

Serge Duthely’s death made headlines three years ago when he became the third person in less than a year to hang himself while in an NYPD holding cell. Duthely, who was 28 at the time of his death, was arrested on a DUI charge on Jan. 31, 2016, and taken to the 78th Precinct in Park Slope for a blood alcohol test. He was then transported to Canarsie’s 69th Precinct, according to a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court on behalf of his mother and two children.

Duthely hanged himself using his shirt after just hours in the cell. His family sued the cops for negligence. A clear plastic window allowed police sitting at the front desk to see directly into the holding cell, according to the lawsuit.

The city settled for $1,250,000 on June 24, 2019, according to a wrongful death compromise order from Judge Katherine E. Levine.

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“This was a tragic incident,” a Law Department spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle. “This settlement is in the best interests of the city.”

The city posts a spreadsheet that lists each civil action filed against the NYPD twice annually for lawsuits from the last five years. The list of lawsuits is mandated by a 2017 law signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Duthely’s payout was the second biggest in Brooklyn so far in 2019, according to the police records. The highest amount was given to Charles Puccio, who in 2014 was riding his bike when a police officer allegedly grabbed him, causing him to fall to the ground and injure himself. In Puccio’s case, the city settled in January for $2,250,000.

The city has paid out more than $40 million for lawsuits against the NYPD already this year, and more than $300 million since 2015, according to the Queens Eagle.

Update (1:10 p.m.): This story has been updated with a quote from the Law Department. 

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