ACLU raises new questions on detainee's death

Some three months after the death of Hiu Lui Ng, a Chinese national, the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU points to a new court transcript in raising further questions about the case.

Relying on a just-released court transcript, the Rhode Island ACLU charged today that officials at the Wyatt Detention Center were deliberately misleading in their public pronouncements on the death of Hiu Lui Ng, a Chinese national, at their facility in August. The transcript, the ACLU said, also lends credence to the view that Ng, near death and experiencing great pain, was dragged from his cell at Wyatt by immigration officials and forced to travel to Hartford, Connecticut in reprisal for a petition filed on July 29th by family lawyers seeking his release from prison because of his severe medical condition. Mr. Ng died a week later, on August 6th, as the result of complications from advanced cancer; he was also found to have a broken spine. The RI ACLU is preparing a civil suit on behalf of the family.

At a hearing held before U.S. District Judge William Smith on July 31, 2008, less than a week before Ng’s death, the transcript reveals that the attorney for the federal government claimed that Ng was getting “more than adequate medical care” and that “any suggestion that he hasn’t received adequate medical care is really stretching it.” At the same time, the government attorney also stated, just days before Ng died of advanced cancer, that Wyatt’s medical records revealed only that Ng had “lower back strain and sciatica.” This stands in direct contradiction to a statement that Wyatt officials issued shortly after Ng’s death, in which they claimed that Ng’s “diagnoses came as the direct result of medical care and special diagnostic evaluation recommended by the facility’s medical staff.”

The transcript further reveals that federal officials had no logical answer as to why, just one day after attorneys filed the lawsuit seeking his release from Wyatt, he was dragged from his cell and transported to Hartford, Connecticut for a day.

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