|Schneiderman finds no criminal conduct in death of Raynette Turner while in custody of the Mount Vernon Police Dept. She died of natural causes.|
|Text of press release.|
News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2016
New York City Press Office / 212-416-8060
Albany Press Office / 518-776-2427
A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN’S SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS UNIT RELEASES DETAILED REPORT ON INVESTIGATION INTO THE DEATH OF RAYNETTE TURNER
WHITE PLAINS – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the release of a comprehensive report by his office’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit detailing the results of his office’s seven-month investigation into the death of Raynette Turner on July 27, 2015, in Mt. Vernon. The report provides an unprecedented degree of transparency to an investigation involving the death of an unarmed civilian in police custody. The investigation, led by Chief of the Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit Alvin Bragg, found no criminal culpability in the death of Ms. Turner.
Investigators from the Attorney General’s office interviewed more than 40 witnesses, reviewed over 1,700 pages of medical records, including autopsy and toxicology results, and examined video evidence covering virtually the entire time Ms. Turner was in custody at the Mt. Vernon Police Department. The official autopsy, conducted by the Westchester County Medical Examiner, found that Ms. Turner died of natural causes. As part of today’s announcement, the Attorney General’s office also released the official autopsy report and video footage of Ms. Turner’s time in custody.
“Ms. Turner’s death was a tragedy, and the public deserves all of the facts,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I commend Alvin Bragg and the Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit for completing a fair, comprehensive, and independent investigation. This report reflects my office’s commitment to providing a thorough and deliberate review in each and every one of these cases, and to make sure that the full results of our investigation are provided to the public. Finally, I hope that state and local officials will act on the reforms we have proposed without delay.”
The Attorney General’s report proposes several reforms to the processing, supervision, and arraignment of arrestees. The proposed reforms include: (1) Expanding the availability of video conference arraignments, to ensure that arrestees are arraigned promptly, regardless of when an arrestee is taken into custody; (2) Increasing the number of personnel authorized to fingerprint arrestees to speed the processing of arrestees; (3) Updating Mount Vernon policies to require in-person cell checks of arrestees, and; (4) Re-evaluating New York State minimum standards for arrestees who may require medical attention.
The full report can be read here.
Surveillance video footage of Ms. Turner’s final hours in custody can be found here.
In December 2014, AG Schneiderman and New York leaders called on New York State to appoint the Attorney General as a special prosecutor in all cases where an unarmed civilian dies during a police encounter. On July 8th, 2015, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 147, appointing A.G. Schneiderman as the special prosecutor in such cases. On August 3, 2015, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 147.1, which expressly conferred jurisdiction upon the Attorney General to investigate any potential unlawful acts or omissions relating to Ms. Turner’s death. Executive Orders No. 147 and 147.1 also provide that the Attorney General may offer “any recommendations for systemic reform arising from the investigation.”
The investigation was conducted by Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit Deputy Chief Wanda Perez-Maldanado, Deputy Chief Jennifer Sommers, Counsel Gail Heatherly, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Ross, Senior Advisor and Special Counsel Nicholas Suplina, Chief Investigator Dominick Zarella, and Supervising Investigator John Sullivan. Analyst Muhammad Zagar assisted in the investigation. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator Dominick Zarella. The Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Alvin Bragg.