In a frightening replay of events involving a Black woman dying while in police custody, an investigation has been launched into the death of a 37-year-old Cleveland woman who died in jail this weekend.
On Sunday morning, just after 7 a.m., the lifeless body of Ralkina Jones was found in her jail cell at the Cleveland Heights Police Station Jail, located at 40 Severance Circle. While initial autopsy findings reported “no suspicious injuries,” the cause of Jones’ death is pending investigation.
For all accounts, Jones was a woman who was always on the right side of the law. In pictures, she was tall, slender and beautiful. A young mother of an 11-year-old, she wore her hair in a sleek pixie cut and accessorized her looks with statement earrings. The eldest of 7, her sisters told news outlets that she was self-aware when it came to her health problems, which included a brain aneurysm, and that she carried a list of them around with her, just in case. She had never previously been in trouble with the law prior to a domestic dispute Friday night.
According to reports, Jones’ brush with the law began late Friday evening. At around 10:35 p.m., she was arrested following an argument with her ex-husband, Brandon Jones at his job at the local Save-A-Lot. Police claim Jones broke his car window and attempted to smash the windshield with a tire iron, before she allegedly turned on him, “hitting his arm.” Next, cops say she came close to running Brandon and a friend of his down with her car with her daughter in the backseat of the car.
She was charged with felonious assault, criminal mischief, creating a disturbance, domestic violence and endangering a child. According to the Huffington Post, Brandon Jones declined to press charges, so the exact reason why she remained in police custody for a day after the incident, remains unclear.
Ultimately, her time with police would be the end of her life. What exactly happened, like so many cases involving Black people and the police, remains a mystery.
Upon taking her into custody, police say they learned that Ralkina was “being treated for several medical conditions,” Cleveland Heights Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson said Monday. According to Robertson, she was given the proper prescription medications “as directed.”
But by Saturday evening, Ralkina’s condition had taken a turn for the worse. According to reports , she appeared “lethargic,” reportedly from problems stemming from her blood pressure and blood sugar.
From there, the details become increasingly sparse. About four hours after she was discharged from the hospital, she returned to the prison and paramedics checked on her twice.
By Sunday morning, Ralkina Jones was dead in her jail cell, having been found unresponsive in her prison bed.
Now, once again, a family is left demanding answers as to what happened to their loved ones.
“If she did make a mistake and make the wrong decisions, she didn’t deserve to be neglected, knowing that she had health issues,” her sister told a Cleveland News Station.
Her other sister, who spoke to Ralkina the day before she died, told 19 Action News that Ralkina’s death makes “no sense.” Worse, she said cops were remaining tight-lipped about her condition.
“She was perfectly fine. She didn’t complain of nothing, saying she was hurting or anything,” Ashford said.
Since then, they have “begged” for answers, calling city officials non-stop to find out how someone who had just been taken to the emergency room hours before, could be taken back to jail and left to die.
Worse, the family is understandably terrified, considering the recent deaths of Sandra Bland, 28, and Kindra Chapman, 18, both of whom are said to have mysteriously committed suicide while in police custody.
That makes Ralkina Jones the third Black woman to die in police custody in just two weeks.
The coroners’ office is continuing to investigate her death, but until then, her family is left heartbroken.
“My sister is dead,” her family-member said. “How do I look at her daughter and say, ‘I don’t know?’ … I just want to see my sister, that’s it. I just want to hold her.”
HelloBeautiful’s Monique John & Allison McGevna contributed to this report.