Ralkina Jones was recorded telling police officers “I don’t want to die in your cell” mere hours before her greatest fear became a reality.
Jones, 37, was found dead at 7:30 on the morning of July 26 in Cleveland, Oh.
On July 24 Jones was arrested on charges of felonious assault, criminal mischief, creating a disturbance, domestic violence and endangering a child after attacking her ex-husband — who did not press charges — at his place of work.
Upon her arrest, Jones disclosed multiple medical conditions she was being treated for, including ADHD, depression, seizures and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). She also revealed she suffered from a brain injury following a head injury she sustained from her ex-husband. A member of Jones’s family also reported she had a heart murmur.
Officers in the video appeared compliant with Jones’s medical requests and assured her she would be given the attention she needed. Jones expressed concern about an officer who allegedly yelled at her earlier in the evening, but the video shows officers confirming nothing like that would happen again.
Several hours later, Jones reported not feeling well and was evaluated by a medical professional at the jail, who said she was in good health and released her back to her cell. Employees at the jail checked on Jones repeatedly throughout the night and found her fine every time, until she was eventually found unresponsive. Paramedics declared Jones was dead on the scene.
Meanwhile, Jones’s family, including the preteen daughter she left behind, is anxiously awaiting the reason for Jones’s death. Her sister, Renee Ashford, says that Jones was perfectly healthy when she visited and spoke to her on the phone.
“She was perfectly fine. She didn’t complain of nothing, saying she was hurting or anything,” Ashford said.
Jones’s death came just weeks after the tragic death of Sandra Bland, who was found hanging in her cell in Waller County jail. Bland’s death spurred a social media trend on Black Twitter, #IfIDieInPoliceCustody. People have been tweeting their declarations that if they are arrested and die it was not of their own doing.
#IfIDieInPoliceCustody I did not kill or harm myself in any way. I did not deserve to die for being arrested. I am just black.
— mamicita (@LeMulan) August 12, 2015
#IfIDieInPoliceCustody it was not a suicide. I am not stressed to the point of suicide. I am living to make a difference in Black lives.
— talesha wilson (@SignMyBeauty_) August 10, 2015
Jones’s family is still awaiting the official cause of her death, but an autopsy did not reveal any suspicious injuries. They are hoping to receive answers soon.
“Every time we call we don’t get an answer and that’s the upsetting part,” Ashford said.
Following the release of the police custody videos, Jones’s family released the following statement:
“We are devastated by Ralkina’s death. We do not fully understand all of the facts and circumstances surrounding her death but look forward to the results of the pending investigations. Ralkina was a loving mother, caring sister and devoted daughter who will be deeply missed by all. We cannot begin to express the pain our family is going through and continues to go through each time this video is played. It is a constant reminder of Ralkina’s last moments that we would rather not relive. We feel the reasons surrounding Ralkina’s arrest should not overshadow what caused her death to occur. Our family would like to express our appreciation for all of the support we received and we ask for the respect of our privacy during this difficult time.”