Last fall, we featured Jennifer Gonnerman’s New Yorker story, “Before the Law,” an investigation into a crippled legal system that left 16-year-old Kalief Browder imprisoned on Rikers Island for three years, waiting for a trial that never happened. Browder had been charged for a crime based on shaky evidence. Gonnerman’s story made it onto our list of the best stories of 2014.
This weekend, Gonnerman had an update on the story: Kalief Browder committed suicide. She writes:
His relatives recounted stories he’d told them about being starved and beaten by guards on Rikers. They spoke about his paranoia, about how he often suspected that the cops or some other authority figures were after him. His mother explained that the night before he told her, “Ma, I can’t take it anymore.” “Kalief, you’ve got a lot of people in your corner,” she told him.
One cousin recalled that when Browder first got home from jail, he would walk to G.E.D. prep class every day, almost an hour each way. Another cousin remembered seeing him seated by the kitchen each morning with his schoolwork spread out before him.