Woman dies in NY county jail awaiting deportation
LYNN, Mass. (WHDH) -- A man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit after his wife died in a New York county jail while awaiting deportation to France.
The woman’s husband -- from the North Shore -- claims his wife didn't get the medication she needed to treat a heart condition.
Irene Bamenga, 29, lived in Lynn with her husband for several years. She was a cook and an aspiring social worker.
“She was complaining of chest pains and she was having difficulty breathing,” said Yodi Zikianda, victim’s husband.
That was one of the last conversations Zikianda had with his wife. The French citizen died of congestive heart failure in an Albany, New York jail, according to the family’s attorney.
Bamenga was being detained when she and her husband tried crossing into Canada. Her husband said she did that so she could fly to France to clear up her immigration issues.
Zikianda said his wife had a plane ticket, but U.S. immigration authorities would not allow her to leave.
“Her ‘crime’ was attempting to leave. The reason she was detained is because some stamps were missing in her valid French passport,” said Alex MacDonald, attorney.
Bamenga’s U.S. visa was expired by several years, though her husband is living in the U.S. legally.
Zikianda said his wife took six different medications for her condition. He also said immigration authorities assured them that she would receive her medication. But Zikianda said she did not.
Medical records show Bamenga wrote to the doctors and nurses in jail that she was experiencing shortness of breath and palpitations. She also wrote, “I am not being given the full dosage of my medications.” Bamenga died two days later.
“Every day that goes on I can’t stop thinking of the way she was,” Zikianda said.
Bamenga had been detained for 12 days before she died.
The sheriff in the New York county said he is not commenting due to the pending litigation.