Another Black Woman Dies in a Texas Jail Cell

By Sheryl Estrada


Symone Marshall and her 3-year-old daughter.

UPDATE May 23: Police in Huntsville, Texas, over the weekend said preliminary autopsy reports indicate Marshall’s place of death wasHuntsville Memorial Hospital, where she was taken after being found unresponsive in her cell.

After a serious automobile accident on April 26 in Huntsville, Texas, authorities arrested Symone Nicole Marshall and took her to Walker County Jail. Unable to post her $5,000 bond, she died there 10 days later.

Officials said Tuesday paramedics responding to the accident, in which the car rolled over and landed in a ditch, saw no signs of obvious injury after evaluating both Marshall and a female passenger, and that both women declined further medical treatment, according to KHOU.

They were arrested by Texas Department of Public Safety officers and processed at Walker County Jail on misdemeanor and felony charges of alleged cocaine possession. Marshall was also charged for allegedly providing false identification.

The female passenger posted her bond the next day and was released. However, in her jail cell, officials said Marshall had an apparent seizure May 10 and was transported to Huntsville Memorial Hospital. She was pronounced dead. The Harris County Medical Examiner performed an autopsy, results are still pending.

Since Marshall died in a jail cell,Walker County Sheriff Clint McRae said it’s standard policy an investigation take place with the Texas Rangers.

“Even though we feel pretty comfortable, we’re going to look at it from all angles,” McRae said in an interview. “We’re a very transparent department.We want to know exactly what happened so we can go home and sleep at night.”

Marshall’s family is suspicious regarding the incidents surrounding the 22-year-old’s death. Her sisters, Toni Pruitt and Honey Marshall, actually offered a different version of events leading up to the young mother’s demise.

On a GoFundMe page the two expressed they wanted “media attention on this issue, justice for the two weeks of gross negligence that resulted in her death, and donations toward giving Symone a beautiful funeral.”

The sisters wrote that on April 26 Marshall was a victim of road rage and run off the highway, causing her vehicle to flip over three times and land in a ditch. They claim she was in police custody for two weeks for not possessing a valid driver’s license and did not receive any medical attention.

“Symone consistently begged to be taken to a hospital, complained that she didn’t feel good and police refused to take her to a hospital to be evaluated by professional doctors, (even with her sister, Honey Marshall calling and requesting for them to do so) which resulted in her dying in jail two weeks later on May 10th, 2016 from a blood clot in her lung,” the note says.

Black Women Dying in Jail Cells

Marshall moved to Texas from Detroit about a two months ago. According to friends and family, herdaughter remained in Michigan while she worked and saved money to get her own apartment. But Marshall was arrested and ultimately died in Walker County Jail. This brings to mind Sandra Bland, who in July moved to Prairie View, Texas, where she was arrested following a traffic stop and died in her cell in Waller County Jail.

Former State Trooper Brian Encinia stopped Bland for failing to signal when changing lanes near her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. She had just interviewed for and accepted a job at the university. Police dashcamvideo shows the confrontation escalated after Encinia asked Bland to put out her cigarette and exit the car.

Encinia was fired and charged with perjury for his deceptive account of events.

Ralkina Jones was arrested on July 24 in Cleveland, Ohio, on several charges. She died in her jail cell on July 26. Prior to her death, she reported not feeling well, but a medical professional evaluated her and said she was fine. There is a recording of Jones telling officers, “I don’t want to die in your cell.”

Gynnya McMillen, a 16-year-old, was taken to Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center in Elizabethtown, Ky. That night, after 14 hours in a holding cell, she died.

An investigation into the death of Marshall is a standard policy, according to Sherriff McRae, but with different accounts of the events leading up to the young mother’s death, it is also necessary.

In the case of Bland, and recent police-related deaths of Blackmen around the country, including Laquan McDonald in Chicago, Ill.; Walter Scott in North Charleston, S.C.; and Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati, Ohio, the accounts officers provided contradicted dashcam and cell phone videos.

McRae said Marshall’s seizure in her cell was captured on surveillancevideo, which has not yet been released.

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