Family and Friends Mark One-Year since Samuel Harrell's Death
BEACON, N.Y. --- Organizers from Beacon Prison Action and family members of Samuel Harrell held a vigil in Beacon on Saturday.
“We miss him, we love him and we're gonna continue until we get the justice that we deserve," said Cerissa Harrell.
The event marked one year since Harrell's death at Fishkill Correctional Facility last April.
"We're here today to honor Sam to support his family and to ask Governor Cuomo to implement some critical changes," said Beacon Prison Action Co-Founder Jeff Golden.
Family members said Harrell was beaten and thrown down a flight of stairs by correctional officers known as "Beat Up Squad".
The officers said Harrell started a the fight with them. Since the attack the family said no disciplinary action has been taken against the officers involved. Organizers said new laws should be put into place at correctional facilities across the state.
"We want every CO that is involved with taking an inmate’s life to automatically be out on administrative duty and we automatically want it to involve a special investigation a special prosecutor not just the local DA," Golden added.
Harrell's family is taking part in a 5-day hunger strike which started on the one year mark of his death. Authorities said they will continue to fight for him in any way possible.
"A hunger strike to support one another you know in times of crisis so everything that we have tried to accomplish we're still maintaining that goal. It won't happen overnight but we're still pushing for justice," said Harrell’s father, Samuel Harrell.
“To show that we're willing to give up things to get things in return for change," said Cerissa Harrell.
Harrell's family said they continue to be surprised by the amount of support that they receive from various communities.
"They came out to show support for a man that they didn’t know but what happened to him was not right," said Cerissa Harrell.
What they really want is for people to rememberSamuel, the person and not the violent inmate they said officers portrayed him to be.
"He's a gentle giant, a big heart, loved people and he just loved to be friendly to people that he didn't even know," said Harrell’s father.