One month after Layleen Cubilette-Polanco’s body was discovered at Rikers Island, the details of what led to her demise have recently been released.
At the urging of Cubilette-Polanco’s family and trans rights activists who held suspicions surrounding the events of her mysterious death, New York City’s medical examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson released Cubilette-Polanco’s official autopsy, citing she died of, “sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP),” the New York Daily News reports.
Since her death on June 7, Cubilette-Polanco’s family along with their legal representation, has inquired as to why she was left in solitary confinement with her condition. But according to the Daily News, the Department of Corrections has disputed the claim that she was placed in solitary confinement.
Cubilette-Polanco, 27, was arrested on April 26 and charged with two misdemeanor charges, drug possession and assault. She remained imprisoned because her family could not afford $500 bond. Cubilette-Polanco, also went by the name Layleen Xtravaganza and was a member of the House of Xtravaganza in New York City’s ballroom community.
“Layleen Polanco’s death is an absolute tragedy, and her passing further underscores the dangers of solitary confinement, which isolates already medically fragile people from observation and care,” Tina Luongo, of the Legal Aid Society in a statement to Pix 11.
Activists are also calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to reinforce efforts to close Rikers Island after decades of corruption and coverups were brought to light.
“We demand utmost transparency and rigor in the investigation of the correctional and medical policies and decisions surrounding her treatment and her placement in isolation. Lastly, Layleen’s passing demands that Mayor Bill de Blasio prioritize the immediate closing of Rikers Island. He must also end his Administration’s punitive solitary confinement policy, which has already claimed the lives of too many New Yorkers,” Luongo continued.
According to the Department of Corrections, the Bronx District Attorney’s office and the Department of Investigation are probing the death of Cubilette-Polanco.