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Death at New York State Psychiatric Hospital Investigated as a Homicide

Police officials are investigating as a homicide the death of a 28-year-old man in Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, a state-run facility in Brooklyn.

Shakim Devega was found unconscious when officers responded to an emergency call at the building around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, police officials said on Friday. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police officials said Mr. Devega was killed by trauma to his neck and surrounding areas. However, the medical examiner’s office in New York City had not yet made a determination as to the cause of Mr. Devega’s death, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

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A spokesman for the New York State Office of Mental Health, which oversees the facility, said the agency was working with the police officials on the investigation. It was unclear if Mr. Devega’s body was found in a common or private area; the spokesman declined to comment on the security and monitoring at the Brooklyn facility, citing the “ongoing investigation by law enforcement.”

Credit…New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services

No charges in the case had been announced as of Friday evening, and efforts to reach Mr. Devega’s family were not successful.

The psychiatric facility where Mr. Devega died was listed as his residence by police officials and on a New York state sex-offender registry.

Mr. Devega had been convicted in 2019 on a count of sexual contact with a person less than 11 years old and sentenced to 42 months in prison. Court records show he was released in September 2021, with 420 days he spent in a local jail counted toward his sentence.

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Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, a red brick campus with buildings dating to the 1850s, sits behind high metal fencing along a half mile of Clarkson Avenue, next door to Kings County Hospital and directly across from a neighborhood of trim duplex houses with landscaping and small apartment buildings.

The facility offers a 24-bed crisis residence for discharged patients waiting for permanent arrangements, a 48-bed transitional residence and a 65-bed family care program, according to its web page.

Lonnie Veal, who lives nearby, said residents who venture out for daily walks or deli runs largely keep to themselves, but that ambulances and police vehicles are frequent nighttime visitors.

On Friday morning, residents came and went through a gate entrance with a buzzer monitored from a small guard house.

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James Dunklin, a resident of Kingsboro, sat on a tall swivel chair seemingly left outside for general use and, between puffs of a cigarette, said that he and Mr. Devega had been in the same ward and shared smoke breaks. He said Mr. Devega was not the type of person to stir conflict or argue.

“He would stay to himself,” Mr. Dunklin said. “He was a good dude. That’s it, pretty much. He didn’t deserve to die.”

Another resident walking along Clarkson Avenue, who said his name was Walter Sergeant, said that he recognized Mr. Devega from a photograph, adding that he had seen him on the grounds earlier in the week and that Mr. Devega appeared “discombobulated.”

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