MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – The heat is on in Mount Vernon, as local activists, residents and officials look for answers into the death of Raynette Turner, the mother of eight who died while in police custody last week.
Last week, Turner, 42 was found dead in her holding cell at the Mount Vernon Police Department on Monday afternoon. She had a history of hypertension and underwent bariatric surgery for weight loss in the past. She spent time at Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital the night before her death after falling ill.
This week, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office took over the investigation, acting under Executive Order 147, which was issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month, granting him the power to investigate “certain matters involving the death of an unarmed civilian, in custody or not, caused by a law enforcement officer.”
In the wake of Turner’s death, Mount Vernon community activist Samuel L. Rivers called on the United States Department of Justice and the United States District Attorney to launch in investigation of the entire police department.
“Having the United States Department of Justice as the lead investigative agency is the only way to ensure a full, transparent and thorough investigation,” he said.
On Tuesday, Mike Hannon, a member of the Blacks in Law Enforcement of America organization called Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis “irresponsible to conclude that there was no wrong doing by anyone in the Mount Vernon Police Department before the investigation by the Attorney General is complete.”
Hannon criticized the department for holding Turner for so long, after she was arrested last weekend for shoplifting, missed the cutoff to appear in front of a judge, and was awaiting arraignment when she was found dead in her cell.
“As a national organization of law enforcement professionals, we have seen first hand people given desk appearance tickets, or released on their own recognizance, with greater offenses than Turner’s and with higher offenses in their criminal history,” he said.
“The silence is deafening and disappointing from the elected officials of Mount Vernon. Even some of the (mayoral) candidates that have announced their candidacy to run for elected office have been tight-lipped.”
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