The state’s top prosecutor said Monday that he will investigate the jail cell death of a mother of eight who waited two days for arraignment on a shoplifting arrest.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said his office will take over the investigation into what happened to 42-year-old Raynette Turner, who died July 27 in the Mount Vernon Police Department’s cellblock.
Schneiderman is acting for the first time under an order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month giving him authority in cases where people die in encounters with police. Cuomo said he hoped to do away with perceived conflicts of interest between local district attorneys and police.
Mount Vernon police officials said Turner was arrested July 25, a Saturday, on a charge of stealing a package of seafood from a wholesale food store, and she was being held for a Monday arraignment. They said she reported not feeling well on Sunday and was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where she was treated for high blood pressure, then returned to her cell a few hours later.
Turner was seen alive at midday Monday but was found dead at 2:00 p.m. An autopsy was inconclusive pending drug and other tests.
Police have not addressed the question of why Turner was held over a weekend on a minor charge rather than given a court summons and released.