Family of Orleans man seeks answers after his death in Greene County prison

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 February 2019 at 5:05 pm

Ex-wife of Delmus Tanner, 38, intends to sue prison over his strangulation

Delmus Tanner

COXSACKIE — The family of Delmus Tanner has been waiting more than three months for answers to why he died while an inmate at the Greene Correctional Facility near Albany.

Tanner, 38, died on Nov. 13, four days after he was taken to the Albany Medical Center and put on life support. He was taken there on a Friday. It wasn’t until the following Monday that his family was made aware of the seriousness of his condition, his ex-wife Ashley Farrell said today.

State police are investigating Tanner’s death and told his family in November there would be answers by Jan. 1, Farrell said.

She has shared Tanner’s death certificate with The Daily Freeman in Kingston, NY. That newspaper reported on Friday that Tanner’s death certificate listed “strangulation by another” as the cause. The State Police also told the newspaper that a grand jury is going to review the case.

Tanner was serving a 5-year sentence on drug charges. He had a chance to released later this year after a parole hearing in August.

“You’re going to prison to rehabilitate and do your time,” Farrell said. “You’re not going to prison to die.”

She was married to Tanner for 15 years until 2015. They have two children together, ages 11 and 17. Tanner also has another child.

“Delmus should have been coming home,” she said. “He couldn’t get out and show us the man he wanted to be. He was going to come out and be a good citizen.”

She has been trying to raise public awareness about Tanner’s death, reaching out to reporters and posting on social media.

“I want to know what happened to him,” she said today. “His children deserve to know what happened to him.”

Tanner’s death has been gaining media attention following the death of another inmate, Anthony Myrie, 24. He died at the prison a week ago an “incident involving several” other inmates, The Daily Freeman reported after contacting the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. The Albany Times Union reported on Sunday that the state DOCCS says the death is consistent with “sudden cardiac arrest.”

Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B also posted on Instagram about seeing friends allegedly abused by correction officers at the Greene Correctional Facility. Farrell posted on Cardi B’s Instagram, sharing about Tanner’s death, and then reporters started calling Farrell.

She is grateful for the publicity, and hopes it helps bring answers from the State Police.

“Delmus is getting the attention he deserves and the issue of prison violence is getting the attention it deserves,” said Farrell, who recently moved from Albion to Batavia. “I am relieved that this is getting out.”

Tanner was a fun-loving person who enjoyed “the good things in life,” taking his children to Chuck E. Cheese and the beach, Farrell said.

“He took pride in being a father,” she said. “He was a good man who would help anybody. He would give you the shirt off of his back.”

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