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Rikers inmate dies, marking second death in custody this year

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A Rikers Island inmate has died, marking the year’s second in-custody death, officials said.

Rubu Zhao, 52, was severely injured at the George R. Vierno Center on Sunday, the city’s Department of Correction said.

Zhao was taken to NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, where he was pronounced dead late Tuesday night, the department said.

The city’s medical examiner will determine how he died.

Zhao entered DOC custody on Dec. 14 of last year on a second-degree murder charge, the department said. 

His death came a little over three months after another inmate died in custody at Rikers Island.

“I am saddened by the circumstances that led to Mr. Zhao’s passing and I offer my condolences to his family,” DOC Commissioner Louis Molina said in a statement. “The health and safety of everyone in our custody is a top priority and a full investigation is underway to determine how this unfortunate incident occurred.”

There were 19 city jails-related deaths in 2022. That figure includes inmates who were released from custody just before their deaths.

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