Mayor: Death of NYC inmate in hot cell 'shocking'

JAKE PEARSON and JONATHAN LEMIRE
March 20, 2014
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In this March 12, 2014 photo, a picture of Jerome Murdough is held by his mother Alma Murdough left, and sister Cheryl Warner at Alma Murdough's home in the Queens borough of New York. Jerome Murdough, a mentally ill, homeless former Marine arrested for sleeping in the roof landing of a New York City public housing project during one of the coldest recorded winters in city history, died last month in a Rikers Island jail cell that multiple city officials say was at least 100 degrees when his body was discovered. Murdough, 56, was found dead in his cell in a mental observation unit in the early hours of Feb. 15, after excessive heat, believed to be caused by an equipment malfunction, redirected it’s flow to his upper-level cell, the officials said. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling the death of a mentally ill veteran in an overheated jail cell "shocking and troubling."

Speaking at a bill signing Thursday, De Blasio told reporters he didn't know how Jerome Murdough's (muhr-DOH') death could have happened.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the 56-year-old homeless man was found dead last month in a cell that was at least 100 degrees in a unit for inmates with mental illnesses at Rikers Island.

Four officials who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity say Murdough apparently didn't open a vent to let in cool air and was on anti-psychotic medication that may have made him more sensitive to heat.

The Department of Correction is investigating the death and has acknowledged the temperature in Murdough's cell was "unusually high."