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Letter: Officials must investigate tragedy at Holding Center

Officials must investigate tragedy at Holding Center

I want to commend The News for its excellent articles and editorial on the tragic incident at the Erie County Holding Center when Richard Metcalf Jr. died. Keeping us as community advocates informed and hopefully informing the community at large of these travesties is an important function of the media. It is unfortunate that it took a request using the Freedom of Information Act to obtain details reported by The News, and that it took four years to do so.

We have been assured many times by jail representatives that procedures at the Holding Center have improved and that inmates receive psychiatric evaluations very soon after incarceration. How can someone with this young man’s obvious symptoms not be recognized as mentally challenged, at the least? How did he end up with four broken ribs and possibly a punctured lung, which would account for his spitting up blood, two trips to hospitals and no psychiatric evaluation? This is a health care system failure as well.

We learn through reports of victims about an elevator area where the beatings of inmates occur because there is no observation camera there. Why not? Who is complicit in allowing these incidents to occur? How could jail deputies think they had the authority to interfere with rescue attempts by medics?

To summarize: four broken ribs, spitting up blood, beaten, strangled, smothered, two trips to hospitals, no psychiatric evaluation and all Sheriff Timothy Howard can say is that they were “poorly trained,” and our DA says he is only “considering” probing this death. ISIS treats people like this!

Marcy Rose

Past President, National Alliance on Mental Illness in Buffalo & Erie County

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