Symone Marshall: Convulsions in a Texas jail, then death
Twenty-two-year-old Symone Marshall was a young mother from Detroit who was looking forward to a new life in the Lone Star state. She ended up dying there, in a Walker County jail cell. While her startling death in the custody of Texas police officials is reminiscent of Sandra Bland's horrific ordeal, Marshall's story is unique and even more mysterious.
Critics have charged that the sheriff's office is guilty of "gross negligence" for not allegedly tending to the medical needs of Marshall, who seems to have succumb to a mysterious illness in the jail. It is unknown whether the single mom to a beautiful daughter suffered from some pre-existing condition or contracted something from the detention.
"We are feeling terrible," Marshall's sister Honey Marshall told KHOU. "All we had was each other. We're just feeling really heart-broken right now. Like this is the worst thing to ever happen to us."
Marshall, who had been in Huntsville only about two months, had borrowed her boyfriend’s cousin’s car to run an errand. With her was her friend Amanda Arnold, 26, according to Click 2 Houston.
Marshall and a female passenger were traveling through Walker County when they involved in a single-vehicle rollover car crash. While the girls weren't injured, they were busted for cocaine possession and failure to identify by giving false information, according to KHOU.
The next day, the passenger bonded out of jail, but Marshall would languish there for two weeks, unable to come up with the $5,000 bail.
While her sisters said they talked to her frequently, they said she complained about not feeling well and that she felt as if she was going to black out. Honey Marshall told KHOU that she called the jail and told them to take her sister to "a real doctor."
Symone Marshall died May 10 after suffering an apparent seizure, according to the official police account of the death.
But there are major fault lines that law enforcement officials must answer to. Namely, was prompt medical attention denied or delayed? Was she administered any medication in jail? There are even reports that Marshall's siezure was caught on a surveillance camera, yet it has not been released.
Another mysterious finding is that Marshall refused medical treatment at the scene of the crash. Did she secret harbor injuries to avoid being examined? Marshall reportedly started having convulsions days after being locked up.
"Eight days prior to her death, Ms. Marshall had seen a doctor one day and a nurse the other," Detective Brad Fullwood with the Sheriff's Office was quoted in the Huntsville Item. "She did not have any injuries and did not have any complaints."
Speaking to reporters, Walker County Sheriff Clint McRae said: "We're a very transparent department. We want to know exactly what happened so we can go home and sleep at night."
"Even though we feel pretty comfortable, we're going to look at it from all angles," McRae went on to say. "We're a very transparent department. We want to know exactly what happened so we can go home and sleep at night."
The sheriff did make a point to say that Marshall could have bonded out for around $750 if she had used a bail bondsman, but it is unclear why she didn't.
Civil rights leaders have pounced on the case, spotlighting it as a reason for jail reform in Texas and elsewhere.
On May 21, an African-American community activist told reporters that after touring the jail, he was convinced that nothing untoward happened to Marshall at the hands of authorities.
I don't believe that Walker County Sheriff or that his department did anything to cause the death of this young woman," Quanell X said, according to QW39's News Fix. "I don't believe she was physically abused. I don't believe she was mistreated, but I do believe that she did receive adequate thorough care here."
Dr. Robert Muhammad of the Nation of Islam told QW39 that he believes the law enforcement officials have been forthcoming on Marshall's death.
"Given the Sandra Bland situation, given jail deaths in Harris County that have taken place recently, I believe that law enforcement has a vested interest in transparency," he was quoted as saying. "This doesn't give the sheriff and DPS a pass on anything else that may have transpired or will transpire in the future. We'll come back and there'll be a whole different attitude."
The Marshall family's GoFundMe account to cover their daughter's memorial services surpassed its $5,000 goal in a matter of days, thanks to media coverage.