An Erie County Jail inmate who was declared brain dead days ago was taken off life support on Tuesday, his 30th birthday.
Sean Riordan’s family still don’t know why his heart stopped on June 4, two days after he was placed in the detention center. His mother, Christine Riordan, says hospital staff told her he was resuscitated in jail, but his heart stopped again at Buffalo General Medical Center.
Christine Riordan said a nurse told her on June 8 that there was no brain activity and there was no hope the condition would change. Riordan said she wanted to keep her son on a ventilator at least until his birthday, which the family observed by sharing cakes and ice cream with hospital staff. She said that after a meeting to discuss her organ donation, the last rites would be given around 4 p.m.
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After being disconnected from a breathing machine, Sean Riordan stopped breathing on his own at 3:54 p.m. Tuesday, said Joseph Tomasello, a family friend.
Buffalo police arrested Riordan on traffic charges on June 1 and detained him because warrants had been issued for him for missed court appearances elsewhere. He was taken to the Detention Center on June 2.
Christine Riordan said she found bruises on her son’s throat, arms and legs and a cut on his right eyelid. The family also found an open wound on one of his arms and shared a photo of it with The Buffalo News.
She said an attorney for the family had urged the sheriff’s office in writing to keep the jail video and any other information that might shed light on the case. She admitted her son was addicted to heroin, but Sean Riordan’s sister Tracie Riordan said hospital toxicology tests revealed nothing that could have stopped his heart.
The death will be investigated by the State Corrections Commission, an oversight agency that reviews deaths in New York City jails, jails and police stations. Riordan said she hoped for a full investigation “so that there are no more inmates and the families of inmates don’t have to go through this anymore.”
Erie County records an inmate death every six months, on average. Thirty-two inmates have died, in suicides, homicides, and natural causes, in the roughly 16 years Timothy B. Howard served as sheriff. Riordan died under the watch of Sheriff John C. Garcia. He was Howard’s preferred successor and took office on January 1.