Statement From Layleen Polanco’s Family On Newly Released Footage Of Inside Rikers

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, Director of Communications at AVP,

David Shanies, Attorney representing Polanco family

The following is a statement from Layleen’s mother, sister, and brother, Aracelis Polanco and Melania Brown, Salomon Polanco respectively: 

“The Rikers video shows the world just how little these officers cared whether Layleen lived or died. Layleen’s supposed caretakers knew something was wrong with her, but they ignored her until hours after knowing she was not responsive.  When they finally opened her cell, they stood there laughing next to Layleen’s dead or dying body.

That laughter marked the end of Layleen’s inhumane treatment at Rikers, but there was so much more. It included doctors and high-ranking jail officials ignoring Layleen’s medical conditions and throwing her in solitary where no one would see her.  It included officers who were supposed to confirm she was alive every fifteen minutes at a minimum, who went for hours without actually checking on her safety. 

Layleen was our daughter and our sister.  She was a light not just to us but to her many friends, including her second family, the House of Xtravaganza.  We have tried to mourn her loss for over a year now, but we are still so angry.  Last week we learned that the Bronx District Attorney would not bring criminal charges against any of the people whose job it was to protect Layleen.  Her decision is wrong, but we never believed that justice would come from the same system that took Layleen’s life.  

Justice will come from changes made in Layleen’s name.  With her memory shining a light on the world, we will fight the system that took her life.  We encourage everyone in the community, in Layleen’s name, to call their legislators and demand they pass the HALT Solitary Act and end the Walking While Trans Ban.  With the community’s help, we will make our voices heard in every corner of the government, and we will fight in Layleen’s memory so that no other family has to experience the pain we have endured over the past year.”

Layleen’s family has asked members of the media and the public to respect their privacy in this time.