Rikers Island inmate found dead; 10th prisoner to die at jail in 2021

An inmate awaiting trial on Rikers Island was found dead at the city’s jail Tuesday morning.

Esias Johnson, 24, was found unresponsive by a correction officer touring the jail at 9:45 a.m., officials said. Johnson is suspected to have died of a drug overdose, according to sources. An autopsy will determine the official cause of death.

“The circumstances surrounding this death will receive a full investigation. We have been in touch with Esias Johnson’s next of kin, and extend our deepest condolences,” DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi said in a statement.

Johnson was arrested in Queens last month on a fugitive arrest warrant and charged with menacing, officials said. In 2019, he was charged with criminal impersonation, making a terroristic threat and aggravated harassment, according to officials.

He was due in court on Wednesday, jail records show.

The 24-year-old is the tenth inmate who died at the beleaguered jail this year, Schiraldi said Tuesday.

Plagued by violence and corruption, Rikers Island is set to be closed in favor of smaller jails in the boroughs by 2027.

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