February 5, 2001

Investigation in Boynton Middle School Death Closes With no Charges of Criminal Liability

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The investigation regarding the tragic death of Rashad Richardson has been closed with no charges of criminal liability.

The Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office and Tompkins County District Attorney George Dentes are in agreement that there are no grounds for any criminal prosecution regarding the given evidence, according to a press release from the Sheriff’s Office.

Richardson died after being trapped between gym dividing doors and the wall last Monday in the Boynton Middle School gymnasium.

The doors were manually controlled by a key switch equipped with a safety feature: if the operator lets go of the key, it snaps back to the off position.

The gym teacher who was operating the doors on the day of Richardson’s death told Tompkins County Sheriff’s investigators that she intentionally defeated the safety feature so that she could supervise children in the hallway.

Tompkins County Sheriff’s Deputies, Ithaca Fire Department and Bangs Ambulance were contacted and arrived on the scene at approximately 9:40 a.m. The boy was transported to Robert Packer Hospital in Syre, P.A., and pronounced dead approximately two hours later.

Although the Sheriff’s Department did not find any evidence of criminal liability, issues of civil litigation are outside of the Sheriff’s jurisdiction, according to Captain Joseph Vitale.

The Ithaca City School System is looking into the safety equipment and protocols currently installed in Boynton Middle School, according to the release.

Archived article by Rachel Pessah