Kalief Browder’s siblings are hoping his death will lead to the kinds of changes in the criminal justice system that might have spared his life.
The Bronx man committed suicide in 2015 at 22 after spending three of his teen years at Rikers Island, where he endured beatings and long stints in solitary confinement. He’d been accused, but not convicted, of stealing a teen’s backpack.
“When he came home, our family was left to pick up the pieces without the help of the government, which was responsible,” Akeem Browder, 34, one of Kalief’s seven siblings, told the Daily News Tuesday.
“I doubt it’ll be anytime soon when we can take a sigh of relief. We want to raise awareness so that Kalief’s story . . . brings policy changes on a federal level, state level and city level.”
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The Browder family’s effort to spread the word about Kalief’s tragic life gets a major boost at 10 p.m. Wednesday when Spike TV airs the first of a six-part documentary series chronicling the case that crystallized calls for reform.
“Time: The Kalief Browder Story,” executive produced by Jay Z, mixes live interviews with shocking surveillance footage showing the abuse Browder suffered from correction officers and inmates while locked up on Rikers.
Deion Browder, 26, said he believes the documentary has the power to shake up Americans’ views of what goes on behind bars.
“People hear about the criminal justice system but when you see it firsthand, you get a better picture of the injustice of the system and how broken it really is,” the brother said.
KING: Time for New York to do right by Kalief Browder’s family
Browder’s tragic tale began in May 2010 when cops arrested him on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx after a teen accused him of swiping a backpack.
His family was unable to raise his ,000 bail, so Browder remained locked up awaiting trial. He ended up spending nearly 800 days in solitary confinement, a practice now banned for juvenile inmates.
Browder was released from Rikers in May 2013 when the charges against him were dropped. But the Bronx man, apparently tormented by his time behind bars, committed suicide by hanging himself on June 6, 2015.
“Ma, I can’t take it anymore,” he reportedly told his mother before killing himself.
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The family suffered a second tragedy 16 months later when matriarch Venida Browder, 63, died from complications of a heart attack in October.
Despite having already seen the first couple of episodes, Deion Browder dissolved into tears during a recent screening in Washington.
“I lost my mother so recently,” he said. “To see her speak and hear her talk so passionately, I just broke down.”
“This is going to take a lifetime for me,” he added, “because the two most important people in my life are not here anymore.”
During a press conference last year, Jay Z was nearly overcome by emotion when asked about Browder.
“It’s inhumane,” the hip-hop mogul said. “It’s difficult for me to find the words. It’s so inhumane.”
Browder’s family has filed a million wrongful death lawsuit against the city.
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