Two days after being arrested at a wholesale food market, 42-year-old Rayette Turner was found dead in her jail cell in Mount Vernon, New York.
A mother of eight children, Turner was in a holding cell for charges of shoplifting when she allegedly told police she was not feeling well. Authorities took her to a hospital on July 26, returned her to her cell a few hours later, but the next afternoon, she was found dead, reports My Fox NY.
According to The Journal News, family members are upset with officials for failing to give her appropriate medical attention.
Rayette’s husband of 23 years, Herman Turner, is outraged and claims he will not rest until he “gets some type of justice for his wife.”
"It sounds like a cover-up to me," he stated on July 28 in his attorney’s office. "If they (Mount Vernon police) did their job, she would still be alive.”
Turner said he sat in court all day on July 27 until 4 p.m. waiting for his wife’s arraignment, but no one notified him about her death until the next day.
Currently, deputy Police Commissioner Richard Burke says there is no foul play suspected, but the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office is insisting her death be further investigated, reports NY Daily News.
Community leaders have also expressed their concern for Turner’s death in police custody.
Mount Vernon Mayor Ernie Davis extended his condolences to Turner’s family during a news conference, and City Councilman Richard Thomas added, “We need full transparency so we know what happened."
Corey Stoughton, a senior staff attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union said Turner’s death comes right after the recent death of Sandra Bland, a Chicago woman who was also found dead in her holding cell in Waller County, Texas, after being arrested during a traffic stop.
According to Stoughton, "After incidents like this, you should have the local governments that operate holding cells question the wisdom of holding people arrested for minor crimes,” The Journal News reports.
In Turner’s case, she could have died because of health complications after having bariatric surgery, according to NY Daily News.
An autopsy has been scheduled to determine the cause of her death. Turner is survived by her eight children, ranging from 8 years old to 21.