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Borrowing backed for $2.8 million settlement of jail suicide suit in Suffolk

Undated mugshot showing Jack Franqui. Franqui died by

Undated mugshot showing Jack Franqui. Franqui died by suicide in a cell in Suffolk County Police Department's Seventh precinct in Shirley in 2013.

Suffolk County legislators are set to vote next week on $2.8 million in borrowing for a settlement with the family of Jack Franqui, who died in police custody in 2013 after officers failed to follow protocol for preventing suicides.

The legislature's Budget and Finance Committee approved borrowing for the settlement Monday, after a six-year legal battle by Franqui’s estate against Suffolk County, the county police department and several officers. The Ways and Means committee approved the settlement itself on Sept. 26.

Franqui, 26, of Rocky Point, committed suicide in a Seventh Precinct holding cell in Shirley within hours of an arrest on misdemeanor charges in January 2013.

A two-part Newsday investigation in 2015 documented how officers on duty ignored protocol and failed to put Franqui under closer supervision or transport him to a hospital after he threatened to kill himself. Police then gave false information to the public about the circumstances of his death, the Newsday reports said.

Anthony Grandinette, an attorney for the Franqui family, said
the family was, “happy this is almost behind them.”

Grandinette continued, “No amount of money could ever make the parents of Jack Franqui complete again, and they forever suffer with the reality that their only child suffered a horrible death while surrounded by men and women sworn to protect and serve everyone in our community — including their only child.” 

Suffolk County Attorney Dennis Brown said in a statement Monday: “The settlement agreed to by the parties is intended to bring to a close an unfortunate tragedy.”

Franqui was arrested Jan. 23, 2013. A police officer had responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle in the Shoreham neighborhood of Franqui's friend, Simon Earl, whom Franqui had gone to visit.

The officer ran Franqui’s license plate and later testified she recognized Franqui’s name from an earlier dispute with officers. The officer arrested Franqui on misdemeanor charges for ordering his dog to attack her, and for driving under the influence after admitting he had smoked marijuana 30 minutes earlier. He was also charged with resisting arrest. A witness said Franqui did not order his dog to attack the officer.

Franqui, who suffered several injuries, was brought to the Seventh Precinct. Over several hours, he complained that police had unfairly targeted him and that he planned to leave his cell in a body bag. He twice tied materials — a T-shirt and a blanket — to the bars of his cell. Officers confiscated the items. 

Franqui later hung himself using a pair of bluejeans. Officers did not respond to the screams from another person in custody who was trying to get help for Franqui, the Newsday report said. When officers saw Franqui's body on a monitor, they did not attempt to resuscitate him and left him hanging. 

The full county legislature will vote Nov. 26 on borrowing for the settlement. 

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