A Native American woman, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, died of a meth overdose in a jail cell on July 5, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley announced last Friday.
Sarah was being held in the Brown County Jail in Aberdeen for a bond violation.
She had been in a minor car accident when she was arrested on July 3 by the South Dakota Highway Patrol. Sarah was taken to the Roberts County Jail, but transferred to the Brown County Jail at about midnight, reports Red Power Media.
Jackley claimed the autopsy showed no physical injury that would have caused Sarah's death, but meth was found in her system, notes the Associated Press.
However, Sarah's family never knew her to use meth, and it's not clear how she would have gotten her hands on it in jail after two days of imprisonment.
Terrance Circle Bear, Sarah's father, claimed that an inmate told him that his daughter was in serious pain and asked for help from prison guards, but they ignored her.
According to Indian Country News, witness say that inmates called for prison guards to help Sarah, who was eventually dragged from her cell to a holding cell where she was later found by the jail staff to be unresponsive. The 24-year-old woman was taken to Avera St. Luke’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Adrienne Yancey, Sarah’s older sister, told Indian Country Today that Sarah learned she was pregnant in June.
But the autopsy showed no signs of a pregnancy, reports Red Power News.
Terrance said that a nurse told him that Sarah arrived at Avera St. Luke’s Hospital with no heartbeat and was not breathing, leading him to believe that she was actually dead in the jail cell.
“She wasn’t unconscious,” Terrance told Indian Country Today. “She was dead.”
“She cried for help. She was in excruciating pain,” Terrance added. “Why didn’t they take her to the hospital? Was it because she was Native American?”
Brown County Sheriff Mark Milbrandt refused to comment while Jackley's office continues to investigate.