Woman's death at Cleveland-area jail ruled accidental

AP News
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Posted: Nov 13, 2015 3:50 PM

The death of a Cleveland woman in a holding cell at a suburban jail was accidental and related to her medical conditions, a medical examiner said Friday.

Ralkina Jones, 37, had a heart condition that causes changes in heart rate when a person stands up, and she had obesity treated with a stimulant prescribed as appetite suppressant, Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson said. Jones also suffered from obstructive sleep apnea and took several prescribed sedatives that would have increased the severity of that condition, he said.

Jones was found unresponsive on July 26 at the Cleveland Heights jail. Paramedics had taken her to a medical clinic the previous night because she appeared lethargic. Authorities said they continued checking on Jones after she was returned to jail.

Police body camera footage recorded Jones saying she didn't want to die in a jail cell about 15 hours before her body was found. The footage also shows her talking about medical problems she had, which included a heart condition, seizures and depression.

Jones had been arrested two days earlier after a reported altercation with a former spouse, police said.

The city of Cleveland Heights said in a statement Friday that it cooperated with the investigation into Jones' death, conducted an internal investigation that is continuing and upgraded its jail surveillance system after questions were raised about gaps in the video of Jones. The city has said cameras previously recorded only when motion was detected and sometimes might have overloaded the system.

A review of the jail's protocols, including for drug-dispensing and record-keeping, is pending by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. A spokeswoman for the prisons department has said it will ask Cleveland Heights to create an improvement plan if it finds state jail standards weren't met.