Los Angeles police said Wednesday an internal investigation is being conducted to determine if officers “complied with LAPD’s policies and procedures” in the case of a woman who authorities say committed suicide in a jail cell following her arrest on suspicion of felony battery.
Wakiesha Wilson, 36, died at County-USC Medical Center on March 27, according to the Los Angeles Police Department reported.
Coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter said an autopsy conducted on March 31 determined that the death was a suicide by hanging.
Wilson’s family, however, has raised questions about her death, insisting she was not despondent and would not have taken her own life.
According to the LAPD, Wilson “was arrested by Central Area patrol officers on March 26 … after they responded to a medical facility on the 1300 block of Hope Street to investigate a 911 call regarding a person assaulting a patient.”
“When the officers arrived they conducted an investigation and determined that Ms. Wilson had assaulted the victim,” police said. “Ms. Wilson was taken into custody without the use of any physical force.”
Officers took Wilson to the Metropolitan Detention Center, where she was booked on suspicion of felony battery, police said.
“At about 8:25 a.m. March 27, MDC personnel conducted a safety check of Ms. Wilson’s cell and discovered her lying on the floor unconscious and not breathing,” police said. “MDC personnel immediately requested paramedics and began lifesaving measures to revive her.”
Paramedics took her to the hospital, where she died later that morning, police said.
The LAPD’s Force Investigation Division was conducting an investigation, and the results will be presented to Chief Charlie Beck and the Board of Police Commissioners “to determine whether the officers complied with LAPD’s policies and procedures,” police said.
Members of Wilson’s family have held several rallies disputing claims that she committed suicide.
An attorney representing the family told the Los Angeles Times there were no signs Wilson was distraught when she spoke to relatives on the phone after her arrest and again the following morning, about 90 minutes before her death. She even made plans to call them later in the day during their Easter celebration and talk to her 13-year-old son, attorney Jaaye Person-Lynn said.
When Wilson didn’t appear in court for a March 29 hearing, her mother called the jail but didn’t receive any information about her daughter, Person- Lynn said.
It wasn’t until the next day — about 76 hours after Wilson died — that an LAPD supervisor told Wilson’s mother to call the coroner’s office, the attorney said.
Person-Lynn said Wilson, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, had been arrested before. Relatives said they believe her arrest “wouldn’t have been the trigger” for her to commit suicide, he said.
— City News Service