To live & die in L.A. jail: What happened to Wakiesha Wilson?
People who knew 36-year-old Wakiesha Wilson are adamant that she didn't kill herself in a Los Angeles jail cell, as police have said. And Wilson's loved ones want answers.
Wilson was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, March 29, 2016, after being locked up the Saturday morning before. Her family was in the court Tuesday morning when they were told by court officials that Wilson wouldn't be appearing. They then told the family to call the coroner Wednesday.
That's when they were told the truth: Wakiesha Wilson was dead. She hanged herself, according to the coroner.
"I don't believe that, my daughter would not kill herself. It's not like this is the first time she's been incarcerated. No, she had too much to live for," Lisa Hines, Wilson's mom, told KABC TV.
Wilson had bipolar disorder, but was not depressed and it's doubtful that her time in jail would have triggered suicidal thoughts, her family told media outlets.
Hines filed a $35 million legal claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, against the city of Los Angeles in September 2016.
Carl Douglas, who filed the claim on Hines' behalf, said at a news conference, “We are hopeful that this claim for damages will be the first step for answering the questions of how and why Wakiesha Wilson lost her life far too soon,” the L.A Times reports.
Wilson, who had a 13-year-old son and everything to live for, was due to be released from jail in a matter of days and had plans afterward. Her family said it's no way she took her own life.
"She planned on coming to my house," Wilson's cousin, Quanesha Francis, said, according to KABC. "She told us to come to court because she was coming back home with me."
To make matters worse, Hines told the TV station that jail officials delayed telling her the fate of her daughter.
"They knew when I was at court [that Tuesday]," Hines told KABC. "They knew Monday when I called. They knew Monday because she died Sunday."
Indeed, Wilson was taken to the hospital on Sunday, March 27, according to the L.A. Times.
The Wilsons' family attorney, Jaaye Person-Lynn, told The Times that he is determined to get to the truth.
"We want the facts. If the facts came out that she did this, we will accept that," Person-Lynn, said, according to The Times. "The death is tragedy No. 1. The amount of time it took for the family to become aware is tragedy No. 2."
All he knows now is that Wilson was involved in some sort of spat with an officer at the jail.
"We know there was some kind of disagreement with a detention officer or an LAPD officer. We know that after that disagreement she passed away," Person-Lynn is quoted as saying.
LAPD Asst. Chief Michel Moore said the fact that he took nearly three days for Wilson's family to be notified is an error, but it may fall on the coroner rather than LAPD. Still, he said he would look into the case, according to The Times.
"We'll be happy to look into this circumstance and understand how that notification was accomplished," Moore is quoted as saying.