The loved ones of a Black woman who died in police custody last year will finally have a sense of closure. Earlier this week, the Los Angeles City Council announced that it has reached a $298,000 settlement in the death Wakiesha Wilson, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Wilson’s death has been at the center of controversy ever since her body was discovered in an LAPD jail cell in 2016 on Easter Sunday, the news outlet said. Police officials claimed that Wilson committed suicide in the cell, but her family members believed that the officers at the correctional facility were to blame. Following the discovery of her body, the details surrounding what happened to Wilson were scarce, prompting activists and those who were close to her to demand answers.
The incident brought issues surrounding LAPD police practices to the forefront of a national conversation. It sparked internal dialogue about how police officials should handle inmates with mental illness and how the coroner’s office should manage alerting families about deaths.
Los Angeles faced two lawsuits brought by Wilson’s son and mother. The 13-0 settlement vote that took place on Wednesday resolved the lawsuits. “At the end of the day, somebody died on their watch,” the family lawyer Jaaye Person-Lynn told The Times. “I’m still not 100 percent sure of exactly what happened, but I am content with this resolution and I am happy that the city was willing to work with us.”
Taking legal action was not an easy journey for Wilson’s loved ones. At the beginning of 2017, the Police Commission ruled that the officers at the jail where Wilson’s body was discovered had no role in her death. Months later, prosecutors decided not to file criminal charges.
Wilson was apprehended on March 26, 2016, for allegedly attacking a patient in a hospital. When she was taken to jail she reportedly notified officials that she had mental health issues. The next day when cops were transferring the inmates to a different cell block, her body was discovered lifeless in her cell.
The narrative of Black women dying in police custody has been all too common, especially over the past few years. Wilson’s story mirrors what happened to women like Sandra Bland, Kindra Chapman, and Raynette Turner.
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times