AG Finds No Criminal Culpability From MVPD In Raynette Turner Death

White Plains — The New York State Attorney General’s Office released a report of its findings, Wednesday, related to their investigation into the death of Raynette Turner, who passed away while in police custody in a Mount Vernon City jail cell, on July 27, 2015. Raynette Turner was the sixth African-American female to die in police custody, nationwide in the month of July 2015.

All eyes were on the City of Mount Vernon and the Attorney General’s office, with this being the first real test for Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman since Gov. Cuomo signed the executive order giving AG Schneiderman, special prosecutor powers.

The Attorney General’s report reflects that Ms. Turner died of natural causes and, “that MVPD employees did not cause Ms. Turner’s death.” The Attorney General’s report further states that, “the OAG finds no basis to conclude that any MVPD employee failed to perceive a substantial and justifiable risk that Ms. Turner’s death would occur or that any such failure to perceive that risk constituted a gross deviation from reasonable care.

Members of he AG’s Office Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit were on the ground in Westchester to review the case to determine if it falls within the parameters of the executive order, –Eric Soufer, spokesman for AG Schneiderman said in a statement in the beginning of the seven-month investigation. During the course of the Attorney General’s investigation, conducted in cooperation with the MVPD, a number of policy and administrative procedures were reviewed and recommendations have followed to re-evaluate and update them accordingly.

Those policy changes as outlined in the Attorney General’s report include:

  1. Ensure “in-person” checks of detainees.
  2. Expand capabilities of officers to take fingerprints.
  3. Advance quicker arraignments of detainees.
  4. Address administrative actions.

Newly appointed Commissioner of Public Safety Robert ‘Bob’ Kelly said, “These actions and additional ones, more than were recommended by the Attorney General’s Office are being undertaken by the Police Department.” The City of Mount Vernon continues to extend its sympathies to the Turner family recognizing that impact of the loss of Ms. Turner to her family and loved ones is not readily assuaged, Kelly released in a statement.

“The City of Mount Vernon continues to extend its sympathies to the Turner family recognizing that impact of the loss of Ms. Turner to her family and loved ones is not readily assuaged,” Kelly added.

Turner died on Monday afternoon, July 27 in a holding cell at police headquarters as she was awaiting arraignment in City Court. She had been arrested two days earlier after allegedly stealing crab legs from Restaurant Depot.

Prior to Turner’s death, she told authorities she did not feel well and wanted to go to the hospital. She was transported and returned to the holding cell.

Investigators from the attorney general’s office’s investigation included watching surveillance video, interviewing more than 40 witnesses, reviewing over 1,700 pages of medical records, including autopsy and toxicology results, and examining video evidence covering virtually the entire time Turner was in custody at the Mount Vernon Police Department.

While the report found no crime, it does fault the civilian prisoner attendant, Ricardo Atkinson, for failing to make regular checks of Turner in the cell and later altering records to reflect that he had checked on her more regularly than he did. It recommends the city take administrative action against him.

Executive Deputy Attorney General Alvin Bragg, who oversaw the probe, said the facts in Turner’s case were “nowhere near” what was needed to sustain a charge of criminally negligent homicide. They would have needed to show a failure to perceive substantial risk of death, and that the failure constituted gross deviation from standard of care.

Mount Vernon Commissioner of Public Safety Robert ‘Bob’ Kelly will be our guest this Sunday, March 6th, on People Before Politics Radio. Tune in 6-8 P.M. and call in and join the conversation at (718) 705-4959