Nearly five years ago, Darlene McDay experienced heartbreaking loss when her son, Dante Taylor, died as the result of the abuse he endured from bad corrections officers—who faced no consequences. Turning devastating grief into righteous purpose, Darlene has become a passionate civil rights advocate, and is co-leader of End QI NY. She tells her story in a new op-ed for City Limits, demanding justice, accountability, and passage of S 1991, the bill to end qualified immunity in New York.
“I never heard about qualified immunity until I became directly affected,” Darlene says. “I learned about this after the worst day of my life, and now I am fighting to end it so no other mother or New Yorker has to learn about qualified immunity the way I did.”
In October 2017, Darlene got a call that Dante, who was awaiting his appeal at a correctional facility near Buffalo, New York, died after prison guards viciously assaulted him following a medical emergency. Her world shattered, Darlene was desperate for clarity, but “no one at the facility would tell me what happened,” she recalls. The corrections department claimed Dante perished by suicide.
Determined to uncover the whole truth, Darlene drove more than 400 miles to examine her son’s records from the hospital where he was treated.
“I am a Nurse Practitioner and I know that no responsible medical provider would discharge a patient who presented with such extreme swelling of the face and head, a CAT scan indicating bleeding on the brain and an abnormal EKG or they would be sued for malpractice,” she explains. Despite this, Dante was sent back and put in solitary confinement.
Dante Taylor lost his life soon after. The corrections officers got off on qualified immunity.
“The love for my son fuels my determination to find a path towards justice,” Darlene says. “Real justice is changing the system. We want to prevent violence from happening in the first place and change New York State’s culture of impunity….It is time for the New York State legislature to honor families like mine and end qualified immunity now.”
Read Darlene McDay’s entire op-ed here.