Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced today that his office would look into the death of Raynette Turner, the 42-year-old woman who was found dead in a Mount Vernon police station holding cell last month. Schneiderman said, "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."
Turner died last Monday afternoon, July 27th, two days after being arrested for allegedly shoplifting on July 25th. Mount Vernon authorities did not notify her family that she was dead until the morning of July 28th. Her husband, Herman Turner, had even showed up to her July 27th arraignment, only to be told she would not be appearing before a judge because she wasn't feeling well.
According to the Journal News, Turner "had been returned to her city cell after throwing up in a holding area near the courtrooms where police had brought her to await arraignment... It does not appear that police sought any additional medical treatment for Raynette Turner at that time, even though she had also spent two hours at a hospital the night before after complaining of not feeling well."
Turner reportedly had some medical issues after her bariatric weight-loss surgery a year ago.
Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Schneiderman the special prosecutor for police-involved deaths last month, nearly one year after the death of Eric Garner from an NYPD chokehold. Today, Cuomo said in a statement:
“Today, the Attorney General informed my office that he intends to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute any unlawful acts arising from the death of Raynette Turner, who died last week while in the custody of the Mount Vernon Police Department.
“Ms. Turner’s death is a tragedy for her loved ones, and it raises questions not just from her family, but from her neighbors, elected officials, community members and the media - questions that deserve answers. This kind of situation is the reason that I signed Executive Order 147 last month, because the justice system must have the trust of our communities. With the Attorney General as special prosecutor leading an independent investigation, I believe that we can begin to restore trust, eliminate any perceived conflicts of interest, and let the community know, once and for all, that justice truly is blind.”
A number of district attorneys apparently met with Schneiderman and Cuomo over the Executive Order (PDF, if you can read sideways).