They Sent Him to His Cell to Die

By Aaron Morrison, The Appeal

It was just after 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2013, and Rashad McNulty sat in the clinic of the Westchester County Jail in Valhalla, New York. The 36-year-old initially described the pain as centralized around his abdomen, but then insisted to jail nurses he had never felt pain like that.

Photo illustration by Elizabeth Brown. Photo Courtesy of the Westchester Government Instagram

Photo illustration by Elizabeth Brown. Photo Courtesy of the Westchester Government Instagram


McNulty was diagnosed with indigestion and was given Mylanta and Zantac, over the counter drugs commonly used to treat heartburn and upset stomach. At around 4 a.m., McNulty told jail staff he was feeling better and was taken back to his cell. But less than 30 minutes later, McNulty collapsed in the hallway of his cell block and appeared to be unresponsive. “I don’t want to die,” he said.

Jail nurse Paullete Smith told McNulty she would take him back to the infirmary. But according to a Westchester County Department of Correction report, Smith changed her mind when McNulty suddenly got up on his own and slumped into a wheelchair.

“I’ve been doing this too long to be fooled,” Smith allegedly remarked to another jail staff member. She took McNulty’s blood pressure and wheeled him back to his cell and left. According to a statement from a corrections officer who periodically checked on McNulty that morning, his moans of discomfort were so loud that they awoke people housed on his cell block who then waved down a corrections officer.

At approximately 5 a.m., McNulty was unresponsive. Smith returned to the cell block, observed McNulty and yelled for a corrections officer to call 911. Around five minutes later, Smith administered CPR to McNulty, but he was still unresponsive. At 5:45 a.m., paramedics arrived at McNulty’s cell and he was then taken to a nearby hospital. But McNulty’s condition did not improve: He was pronounced dead at 6:16 a.m.

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