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Layleen Polanco's Death Due to Epileptic Seizure at Rikers

Protestors Demand Justice For Trans Woman Found Dead At Rikers Island

A trans woman found dead in her Rikers Island jail cell died of an epileptic seizure, according to a recently released autopsy.

Layleen Cubilette-Polanco, 27, was found dead at New York's Rose M. Singer Center in June, days before a scheduled court date. Polanco, also known in the city ballroom scene as Layleen Polanco Xtravaganza, was being held on a $500 bail for a misdemeanor charge. Her death prompted protests in New York’s streets last month.

The city medical examiner on Tuesday released a report indicating an official cause of death, according to The City. It also showed that Polanco took Keppra twice a day to treat her medical condition, but still ended up in solitary.

“The autopsy confirms what the family suspected from the beginning, which is that Layleen died as a result of indifference and neglect,” said family lawyer David Shanies. “Clearly, she should never have been alone unmonitored in segregation and the fact that a doctor signed off on this is shocking.”

Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson said Polanco’s epilepsy was caused by a biological mutation.

Polanco had been in jail just nine days at the time of her death, and expected to serve 20 days.

The New York City Anti-Violence Project last month slammed Polanco’s treatment.

“Polanco was being held due to a few missed court dates as part of the services she was mandated to in an alternative to incarceration program,” the release reads.

"Furthermore, she was being punished with solitary confinement even though officials at Rikers knew she had a serious medical condition that caused life-threatening seizures.”

Rikers treatment of LGBTQ inmates has come under fire before. The prison did open a dorm specifically for trans individuals in 2014, several years after closing another facility.

An attorney for Polanco informed the court of her medical condition in mid-May, and she had been hospitalized shortly before being detained at Rikers.

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