Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Police investigating homicide of autistic man at Staten Island psychiatric center

From The NY Daily News. The death was ruled a homicide Dec. 7.

Cops are investigating the strangling of an autistic Staten Island man in the psychiatric institution his family trusted to care for him, authorities said Dec. 6.

Jawara Henry (pictured), 27, died Dec. 4 at South Beach Psychiatric Center on Seaview Ave. in Staten Island. He was asphyxiated, the city medical examiner's office said, ruling the death a homicide.

Police sources said investigators are looking into whether staffers may have been trying to subdue him at the time.

"We are overcome with grief," mother Sharon Rowe of Stapleton said. "We put our trust in this facility and its people and cannot believe that something like this can happen in this day and age and in this city.

"He didn't deserve to be murdered like this," she added. "We just want justice and pray for our son."

Rowe said she institutionalized her son a year ago after he became too much to handle.

But Henry came home for regular visits and the family saw what they believed were signs of abuse.

Henry once came home with a burn and with stitches on his head another time, said the family's lawyer, Gary Douglas.

In each incident, staff told the family Henry had accidentally injured himself.

"Staff may have used too much force while trying to restrain or medicate him," a law enforcement source said, adding that Henry was "extremely aggressive to the staff."