LAPD Jailer Fired After Controversial Inmate Death - NBC Southern California
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LAPD Jailer Fired After Controversial Inmate Death

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    NEWSLETTERS

    LAPD Jailer Fired After Woman Hangs Herself in Cell

    A Los Angeles Police Department internal affairs file shows that a jailer who was overseeing an inmate at the time she hanged herself was fired after the city settled a wrongful death claim with the woman's family. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24, 2018. (Published Tuesday, April 24, 2018)

    The Los Angeles Police Department fired one of its detention officers following the controversial in-custody death of Wakiesha Wilson, who hanged herself two years ago and whose death became the focus of repeated protests at LAPD headquarters.

    The detention officer, Reaunna Bratton, was discharged late last year on allegations she failed to render immediate medical aid when Wilson was found unresponsive at the LAPD's jail in downtown LA, according to police internal affairs and LA city personnel documents obtained by NBC4.

    The LAPD's investigation also led to an accusation that Bratton had improperly isolated Wilson in an upstairs, individual cell on the day of Wilson's death, in violation of jail policies. That allegation was dismissed by the city during the termination proceedings though the LAPD sought to reinstate it.

    The internal affairs file also revealed that Bratton had been suspended for 22 days six months before Wilson’s death, on allegations she failed to check on the welfare of inmates housed in second floor cells, like the one Wilson was in on the day she died.

    The LAPD declined to respond to a request for comment.

    In December 2017, the city of LA settled wrongful death claims filed by Wilson's mother and son for $298,000 but never told the family the jailer had been fired, according to civil attorney Jaaye Person-Lynn.

    "The city did not accept any liability in the settlement document," Person-Lynn told NBC4. "Someone from the city did do something wrong – it wasn't just Ms. Wilson as completely responsible for her own passing away."

    He said had the family known about the investigation of the jailer the case might have concluded differently, though monetary damages would most likely have still been limited by a state cap on medical malpractice claims.

    The LA County Coroner's Office concluded Wilson committed suicide by fastening a cloth noose to a telephone mounted on a cell wall.

    Security video from inside the jail, also obtained by NBC4, showed several minutes elapsed between the time Wilson was seen by Bratton and another officer slumped on the floor of cell 208 at 8:25 a.m. on March 27, 2016, and the time a third officer arrived and began CPR.

    Bratton's union said it was unfair for the City to blame Bratton alone for Wilson's suicide, and said other jail personnel should bear responsibility.

    "In this case, there were certainly failings along the way that allowed the tragedy to happen, but those failures cannot be placed upon the shoulders of Officer Bratton," SEIU Local 721 said in a statement.

    The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office concluded last year none of the officers had broken the law in their handling or treatment of Wilson.

    The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners announced in January, 2017 it decided officers were not "substantially involved" in Wilson's death.

    According to the LAPD the events that led to the death began when Wilson "was arrested by Central Area patrol officers on March 26... after they responded to a medical facility on the 1300 block of Hope Street to investigate a 911 call regarding a person assaulting a patient."

    "When the officers arrived they conducted an investigation and determined that Ms. Wilson had assaulted the victim," police said. "Ms. Wilson was taken into custody without the use of any physical force."

    Officers took Wilson to the Metropolitan Detention Center, where she was booked on suspicion of felony battery, police said.

    "At about 8:25 a.m. March 27, MDC personnel conducted a safety check of Ms. Wilson's cell and discovered her lying on the floor unconscious and not breathing," police said. "MDC personnel immediately requested paramedics and began lifesaving measures to revive her."

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