Sept. 15th ’83: a writer strangled to death by police

According to the police report, Michael Stewart was seen scrawling graffiti on a wall of 1st Ave station at 02:50 am on September 15, 1983


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Police report said that Michael Stewart became violent, struggled with officers, escaped to the street, was subdued and lost consciousness. He was booked at the Union Square transit police HQ for resisting arrest and unlawful possession of marijuana, then was transported to Bellevue Hospital to undergo psychiatric observation. Stewart arrived at Bellevue at 03:22 am, handcuffed, legs bound and comatose with a blood alcohol content that was more than double the legal limit for drunken driving. He never regained consciousness.

Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart)

Attorneys for Stewart’s family described him as “a retiring and almost docile 135-pound young artist” who was on his way home to his Clinton Hill neighborhood where he lived with his parents. His father was a retired MTA maintenance worker.
According to the autopsy report, Stewart’s injuries of facial bruises and abrasions on his wrists were not linked to his death, but that he died of heart failure following a heart attack that put him into a coma.
A physician who witnessed the autopsy on behalf of the family said his death had been caused by strangulation.

Keith Haring‘s Michael Stewart – USA for Africa

Eleven police officers were involved in the incident; all were white.
On November 24, 1985, officers were acquitted by an all-white jury.

>>> Tributes
Graffiti Limbo
by Michelle Shocked
Hold On by Lou Reed

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