Tragic Death of Nepali Man in New York Prison Reveals Struggles with Mental Illness and Homelessness

Manish Kunwar, a 27-year-old Nepali man who tragically passed away in a New York prison under mysterious circumstances, has been revealed to have struggled with mental illness and homelessness. His lifeless body was discovered on a Thursday morning, October 5th, within the confines of Rikers Island jail, approximately a couple of hours after his demise.

Security footage indicates that Kunwar was last seen alive around 8:26 pm on the preceding Wednesday, as he walked in his cell. His journey to incarceration at Rikers Island began on September 27, and prior to that, he grappled with drug addiction, mental health issues, and life on the streets. In connection with his death, both a corrections captain and an officer have been suspended. Kunwar, who was once homeless and navigating the challenges of life on the streets, is now the subject of a comprehensive investigation.

The suspension of these prison staff members is linked to a glaring lapse – the surveillance video revealed that they failed to perform the mandatory checks on Kunwar’s unit throughout the night. Department of Corrections policy mandates staff to visit units at least every thirty minutes. While Kunwar’s death is suspected to be related to a drug overdose, the official cause of death remains undisclosed.

Kunwar’s story began in 2016 when he arrived in the USA from Nepal via the Diversity Visa program. Regrettably, he found himself homeless shortly after his arrival. For seven years, he faced the challenges of homelessness, residing in New York City and a homeless shelter in New Jersey. He held various jobs in restaurants and construction companies, but his life took a turn for the worse after a shoulder injury. Mental illness, substance abuse, and alcohol-related struggles further compounded his hardships.

A GoFundMe campaign has been initiated to provide Manish Kunwar with a dignified funeral, and donations are encouraged.

In June 2022, Kunwar faced robbery charges in Queens, accused of wielding a knife to take $1,200 from a man. He was also alleged to have stolen credit cards from fellow homeless individuals and attempted to make unauthorized purchases. An arrest warrant was issued for him for failing to appear in court on these charges.

Previously, Kunwar spent five months in a psychiatric center in Baltimore and was arrested in Delaware after making a 911 call expressing suicidal thoughts. Following his arrest, it was discovered that he had an outstanding warrant in Queens, leading to his transfer to New York City to face the robbery charges, resulting in his incarceration.

Records from the New York City Department of Corrections indicate that he was arrested on September 27 and was scheduled for a court appearance just hours after his tragic passing. His next court hearing was set for October 27, but he lost his life approximately a week into his imprisonment.

Born in 1996, Manish Kunwar stood at 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighed 150 pounds, had black hair, and brown eyes, according to official records. The Legal Aid Society, which had been representing his case, expressed profound sadness over his demise and conveyed their deepest condolences to Kunwar’s family, friends, and community.

The society underscored that the tragedy could have been averted if he had access to the services and stable housing he needed. They decried the Department of Corrections’ consistent failure to ensure the well-being of those in custody and its inability to manage fundamental prison functions as unacceptable.