Layleen Cubilette-Polanco’s Family to File Lawsuit Advocates intensify calls for transparency in the city’s jails BY MATT TRACY
he family of Layleen Xtravaganza CubilettePolanco, a trans woman who died under mysterious circumstances at Rikers Island on June 7, announced at a June 26 rally that they are filing a federal civil rights lawsuit in response to her death. The afternoon rally at the steps of City Hall marked the start of a whirlwind day that featured an emotional call for action and the glaring absence of councilmembers who backed out of attending the event over the inclusion of the advocacy group No New Jails NYC, a local coalition that opposes the jail expansion. The day ended with the City Council ultimately approving a package of bills to address issues facing transgender and gender nonconforming people in city
MAT T TRACY
Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polanco’s sister, Melania Brown, said she is filled with anger because the government has refused to release details of her sibling’s death.
custody, even as some anti-LGBTQ lawmakers refused to support to the measures. The main takeaway from the day,
however, came when attorney David Shanies, representing the family of Cubilette-Polanco, stood alongside advocates and Cubilette-Polanco’s
family members and declared that his team will no longer wait for government officials who have dragged their feet for weeks. “We intend to file a federal civil rights lawsuit and we’re going to get the answers ourselves,” Shanies said. Department of Correction (DOC) officials told Gay City News following Cubilette-Polanco’s death that an officer was patrolling the housing area at the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island at around 2:40 p.m. when he found the 27-year-old unresponsive in her cell. CubilettePolanco, who had a history of medical conditions, was being held in “restrictive housing,” which is similar to solitary confinement. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has yet to provide an explanation for her death.
➤ JAIL REFORM, continued on p.63
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June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
Gay City News issue for Stonewall 50/ WorldPride, June 27, 2019