By April V. Taylor
Raynetta Turner is the most recent Black woman to be found dead in her jail cell. Police in Mount Vernon, N.Y. discovered the 44-year-old woman dead in her jail cell on the morning of July 27, 2015. Turner’s name is added to a growing list that includes at least five Black women who have died in police custody since mid-July. The list includes Sandra Bland, Kindra Chapman and Ralkina Jones.
Turner was in jail on shoplifting charges after being arrested and placed in a holding cell on Saturday afternoon. Turner informed police that she had a number of medical problems and was taken to Montefiore-Mount Vernon Hospital Sunday evening. She was returned to her holding cell later that night and found dead 12 hours after being fingerprinted for processing.
While no official cause of death has been given, Turner’s medical history included hypertension. Turner’s death adds fuel to the already ignited Black Lives Matter movement. Sandra Bland died after being arrested for not putting her cigarette out while she was being cited for a minor traffic violation. Kindra Chapman died a day later in an Alabama jail after being arrested for stealing a cell phone.
Joyce Curnell died in jail on July 24 after being arrested on shoplifting charges, and Ralkina Jones died on July 26 after being arrested following an argument with her husband at his workplace. There are many more women who have died in police custody. Investigative blogger Shaun King heard from at least 25 families who say that jail officials told them their family members committed suicide while in custody. Similar to the family of Sandra Bland, those families do not believe their loved ones took their own lives.
There are currently no statistics on how many people die in police custody and have their deaths ruled a suicide despite family members disputing the assertion.