The TownHall Meeting titled ‘Say Her Name,’ was held to discuss the death of a Mount Vernon mother of eight, Raynette Turner which was the first real test for Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, since Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the executive order.
Then New York State Attorney General’s Office would go on to released a report of its findings, Wednesday, March 2, 2016 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, the most publicized being Sandra Bland. Herman Turner is still seeking answers, and justice, after his wife.
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:
- Ensure “in-person” checks of detainees.
- Expand capabilities of officers to take fingerprints.
- Advance quicker arraignments of detainees.
- Address administrative actions.
The town-hall meeting was followed by a candlelight vigil where those in attendance walked from the Mansion to City Hall and prayed for the justice for the Turner family in front of Mount Vernon Police Department where she died. The town-hall meeting was hosted and organized by Cynthia Turnquest-Jones (CEO of Tha Brown Urban Mothers Partnership – B.U.M.P.)
“There has been an erie sound in the Urban communities of mothers and fathers weeping,” Cynthia told BW in 2015 after the candlelight vigil. “That sound is now added with chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “Her Life Matters”. Packed funeral homes, churches, court houses, and streets. But, the weeping is for both the living and the dead. The community is sad and those who protect and serve are also sad. Why? Because there is no justice, there is no peace. #sayhername!”
The panel of speakers included Constance Malcolm (Mother of Ramarley Graham, Danette Chavis (National Action Against Police Brutality), Sharonne Salaam (Mother of Yusef Salaam of the Central Park 5), Chris Hallings (100 Blacks In Law Enforcement), Banita Zelman (Civil Rights Attorney representing Dario Tena‘s family), Antonio Hendrickson (CEO of Lead By Example & Reverse The Trend).
This town-hall forum was put together two years ago today so we would not forget the name of Raynette Turner. Two years later I sit here reminiscent of that night and as we promised the name Raynette Turner will not be forgotten even though it has long been a hot topic in the mainstream media.
Let us remember Raynette Turner and the five other women killed in police custody in July 2015, like Kindra Chapman who was just 18 and had been in an Alabama jail for less than two hours when she was found hanging from a bedsheet in her cell July 14th. Joyce Curnell; about eight days after Chapman’s death, a 50-year-old South Carolina woman was found dead in a Charleston County jail. Ralkina Jones. the 37-year-old Cleveland mother, who reportedly had health issues including a brain aneurysm and a heart murmur, was arrested following a domestic dispute.
Bland’s case is probably the most prominent, since not only was it the first incident to take place in July, but it is also the one with the murkiest details, garnering the most suspicion. The 28-year-old was pulled over by a Texas trooper on July 10, reportedly after failing to signal a lane change. Bland was eventually booked at a Waller County, Texas, jail. Three days later, she was found hanging in her cell, according to police officials.
Raynette Turner’s death while a first for the City of Mount Vernon is added to a long list of black women who have had deadly confrontations with police. According to Kate Abbey-Lambertz at the Huffington Post, these are some of the women on that list:
Tanisha Anderson was a 37-year-old woman struggling with mental illness who died after Cleveland police slammed her head into the pavement outside of her family’s home in 2014.
Miriam Carey was a 34-year-old dental hygienist who made a wrong turn near the White House and was fatally shot by federal law enforcement officers in 2013.
Yvette Smith was a 47-year-old woman who was shot and killed by Texas police officers as she opened the door to her home for police in 2014.
Natasha McKenna was 37 years old when she was restrained by Virginia police, shackled at the legs and shot with a stun gun four times earlier this year. She stopped breathing and died at a hospital several days later.
Rekia Boyd was a 22-year-old woman living in Chicago when she was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer.
Mya Hall was a 27-year-old transgender woman who was shot and killed by National Security Agency guards after crashing a car into a government facility.
Shelly Frey was a 27-year-old mother of two who was shot by Wal-Mart security who accused her of shoplifting.
Darnisha Harris was only a teenager when Louisiana law enforcement officials fired two shots into the car she was driving in 2012.
Malissa Williams, 30, died after Cleveland police fired 137 times into the car that she was riding in with Timothy Russell.
Alesia Thomas was 35 when she was kicked to death by a Los Angeles Police officer.
Shantel Davis was 23 when she was shot and killed by plainclothes New York Police officers in Brooklyn in 2012.
Shereese Francis, 29, had mental illness and died after NYPD officers arrived at her home to help her family transport her to a local hospital. Four officers pressed on her back to handcuff her, and lawyers for the family later sued, saying they suffocated Francis.
Aiyana Stanley-Jones was only 7 when Detroit police officers barged into her family’s home with their guns drawn, shooting her in the head.
Tarika Wilson, 26, was killed and her 14-month-old son was wounded in 2008 after Ohio police opened fire in her home.
Kathryn Johnson was 92 years old when she was shot and killed by Atlanta police officers in a botched 2006 raid.
Alberta Spruill was 57 when she died after NYPD officers mistakenly threw a stun grenade into her home.
Kendra James was 21 when she was killed by Portland police officers in 2003.
This is no means an exhaustive or detailed list, but it’s one filled with names that, by and large, have not incited widespread outrage over police actions. “Their funerals aren’t the site of activism, their mothers don’t get invited to the State of the Union or the White House as a symbol of commitment to eliminating this problem,” Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor and executive director of the African-American Policy Forum, informs. “That element of erasure sends a message that these losses of life don’t matter.”
That may be the case, but today I ask everyone reading this to join me and Say Her Name, as we remember the tragic death of Mount Vernon’s mother of eight, Raynette Turner! REAL TALK!