Corrections Officer Carol Lackner has been charged with falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing; both charges are related to Lackner’s lying about the circumstances in the death of inmate Jerome Murdough. The two main charges are felonies, but Lackner has also been charged with various misdemeanors.
Murdough, a military veteran who battled mental illness for years, died in his cell after a broken heater took temperatures above 100 degrees. The city’s medical examiner says the inmate “died of hyperthermia caused by exposure to the heat, which had interacted adversely with anti-psychotic medicine he was taking for schizo-affective disorder.” Despite Lackner having signed paperwork stating that she had checked on Murdough six times on her shift, it appeared that the inmate was left to overheat over a period of hours.
Lackner has expressed remorse, stating that she would “trade places with him, I would do it in a minute.” She has also questioned why she is the only person who has been held accountable, according to the New York Times:
At least three correction officers, including Officer Lackner, took up post on Mr. Murdough’s unit from the time he was locked in his cell for the night until he was found the next morning. None of the other guards appear to have given any indication that anything was wrong. There was also a captain on duty overseeing the unit and an assistant deputy warden in charge of the jail.
At a time when it’s particularly surprising to see an officer of the law indicted at all, it’s easy to forget how much cruel negligence is going unpunished in this situation.