There will be an investigation into the death of Raynette Turner, a mother of eight, who died in a Mount Vernon, N.Y., police holding cell while in custody last week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Monday, according to the Huffington Post.
“My office’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit will investigate the death of Raynette Turner, consistent with Executive Order No. 147 and a conforming order to be issued by the governor at my request,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
As the Huffington Post notes, last month New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order naming the attorney general the special prosecutor in all cases in the state in which an unarmed civilian dies in police custody. The investigation into Turner’s death is the first to be conducted since the appointment.
Turner was arrested July 25 on charges that she shoplifted from a store. The 42-year-old mother was kept in a holding cell over the weekend because there were no judges working the next day, July 26, a Sunday, to arraign her on the misdemeanor charge.
On the night of July 26, however, Turner started complaining about not feeling well and was taken to the hospital. She was treated and eventually released back into police custody. However, while at the courthouse July 27 awaiting her arraignment, Turner, who had a history of high blood pressure, began to vomit. She was taken back downstairs to her cell.
Officials are to check the cells every 15 minutes, but according to the Journal News, Turner had not been checked on for at least an hour when she was found dead in her cell at 2 p.m. July 27.
Results of an autopsy were not conclusive, the Huffington Post reports, and the medical examiner’s office is awaiting results from toxicology and microbiology tests, which could take several weeks to process, the Journal News adds.
Turner was one of at least five black women who died in police custody from the middle of July to the end of the month.