Surveillance footage of the outside of convicted sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein’s prison cell during his first suicide attempt has gone missing, prosecutors admitted on Wednesday.
Epstein, who allegedly raped and trafficked dozens of women, many of whom were minors, was imprisoned in July 2019 in Manhattan. The former billionaire shared a cell with Nick Tartaglione, a former police officer accused of killing four people during a drug deal.
Epstein was found nearly unconscious with neck injuries on July 23, in what was ruled a suicide attempt. Sources close to the Epstein case told the New York Post in August that Epstein had accused Tartaglione of inflicting the injuries.
Tartaglione’s lawyer Bruce Barket requested footage of the incident to prove his client’s innocence, but prosecutors said in a court hearing on Wednesday that the footage is missing.
“I don’t know the details of how it was lost or destroyed or why it wasn’t retained when it should have been,” Barket said. “We want to be sure that all the evidence is preserved to show that Nick behaved appropriately and even admirably that evening.” Barket asserts Tartaglione tried to alert guards to Epstein’s suicide attempt.
On August 10, Epstein was found hanging in separate cell, which he had been placed in alone after being taken off of suicide watch just one week after the July 23 incident. His death was ruled a suicide by the New York City medical examiner, but forensic pathologist and Fox News contributor Dr. Michael Baden, who was hired by Epstein’s brother to perform an autopsy, said Epstein’s death was most likely a homicide.
New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson defended her office’s designation of Epstein’s death as a suicide and not a murder.
“The original medical investigation was thorough and complete,” Sampson said. “There is no reason for a second medical investigation by our office.”