Sean C. Turzanski, an inmate at the Burlington County Jail, New Jersey, has come forward with accusations that the jail staff intentionally killed a homeless man through willful neglect.
Turzanski states that on Dec 24, 2013, he was sentenced to 15 days in administrative segregation (also known as “ad-seg” or solitary confinement) for defending himself from two other inmates.
On Dec 26, 2013, while in ad-seg, Turzanski witnessed Robert Taylor, a local homeless alcoholic, be brought into the ad-seg unit. Turzanski stated that the COs (Corrections Officers) told him Taylor was being held for failing to pay a $96 ticket.
Turzanski said Taylor was incoherent and going through alcohol withdrawals. Turzanski says the COs told him that Taylor should have been on a medical watch, but it was too much trouble for them to monitor him so that’s why they brought him into the ad-seg unit.
While in ad-seg, Turzanski witnessed Taylor deteriorate over the course of five days until he ultimately died of his condition. Turzanski states Taylor was initially dragged into the middle of a barren concrete cell and did not move from that original position for the entire time he was in the cell.
Turzanski says Taylor was not given any blankets, pillows, or mattress, and that Taylor was placed in a suicide smock, which is similar to a straight jacket, and did not have any clothing or jacket with him. Turzanski says that the cells are cold enough that being in such a condition in a cell would normally induce shivering.
During the course of Taylor’s stay, Turzanski states he saw Taylor miss a total of 15 meals because he was too weak to get up off of the floor in order to eat the meals that were provided to him. Turzanski says Taylor’s meal trays were taken away by the COs while they were still full of food. Turzanski says the COs joked about Taylor’s condition, saying he must be hungry.
During the next five days, Turzanski says Taylor was left to lay in a pile of his own feces and blood. The COs would occasionally open Taylor’s cell door and spray Lysol to try and control the odor. Turzanski says the Sergeant in charge, named Nun, said it would be better for everyone if Taylor just died. Turzanski says Nurses called Taylor’s name for medical checks, but never bothered to go check on him when Taylor failed to respond.
Turzanski says he personally yelled to get Taylor help, but was ignored. Turzanski says that when Taylor was finally discovered to be dead, the staff tried to use an automatic defibrillator on him for about 15 minutes until medics finally showed up. The medics immediately told the staff to stop because it was readily apparent that Taylor had been dead for some time and rigor mortis had already set in.
Turzanski says he is the only person to have witnessed Taylor’s death from beginning to end because of his extended stay in ad-seg. Turzanski says what he observed is not standard protocol and that the lack of care and neglect on the part of the COs directly lead to Taylor’s death. Turzanski accuses three officers specifically of gross neglect, Officers Nun, McDonald and Davis.
Around the 8th of February, a man named Michael Mathis, who was Turzanski’s cellmate, stated that he observed the warden show up at the gym (highly unusual) to confront Turzanski about his accusations. Mathis stated that he overheard the warden arguing with Turzanski, saying that there’s no way Turzanski could have witnessed what he did because of Turzanski’s cell’s position. Turzanski said he was able to see into Taylor’s cell during periods that he was let out of his cell for various activities.
Mathis stated the warden “called in a code” on Turzanski for no apparent reason, and that Turzanski has been sitting back in solitary ever since. As of the time of this writing, that has been at least 10 days.
Show your support by writing the whistleblower inmate at
Sean C. Turzanski # 90248
Burlington County Jail
54 Grant St.
Mt. Holly NJ 08060
The Burlington Count Times is reporting that the county medial examiners have determined that Taylor died of natural causes. Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor James Ronca is quoted as saying, “It is clear that this inmate died of natural causes and not as the result of any criminal act.”
I would love to see the autopsy report. Given the specificity of Turzanski’s account, and the trouble it got him into, I’m more inclined to believe Turzanski’s account over a bunch of people who obviously have a tremendous incentive to cover their own asses by lying.
Keep in mind all of this took place in a solitary confinement unit. Taylor shouldn’t have been in there to begin with. That fact alone merits some further investigation. If Turzanski is to be believed, Taylor should have been on a medical watch, with people checking on him regularly. That means he should have been found to be dead long before rigor mortis had set in.
I’m curious if they tested Taylor’s blood for alcohol during the autopsy. After 5 days, he shouldn’t have had any alcohol in his system. If he did, then he must have died shortly after his incarceration.