The city of Cleveland Heights in Ohio says its jailhouse camera system failed to capture six hours of footage on the night that Ralkina Jones died in a cell because its "outdated" technology caused "glitches" in the recording.
According to technical reports released Thursday by the bedroom community east of central Cleveland, cameras filming the jail cells were set to only record when they detected motion. The investigation also found that the camera system’s memory was insufficient, even though it met industry standards when it was installed in 2008.
Jones, 37, was arrested on Friday, July 24, after a reported domestic dispute in a parking lot with her ex-husband. At around 7:15 p.m. the next day, Jones appeared “lethargic” in her cell and was transported to HealthSpan hospital in Cleveland. Four hours later, she was transported back to the jail. She died early that Sunday.
As the third African-American woman to die in a jail cell over a two-week period this summer, Jones’s death — the cause of which remains under investigation — made national headlines.
Weeks after her death, jail records revealed that Jones may have been improperly medicated while she was in custody.
Video footage from the jail showed Jones discussing her medication with Cleveland Heights police, telling an officer, “I don’t want to die in your cell.”
Cleveland Heights officials came under further scrutiny when large gaps of time were discovered in the jail cell footage of Jones that city officials provided to the media.
Officials initially declined to respond to questions as to why as much as six hours of tape wasn’t shared with reporters until Thursday, when City Manager Tanisha Briley issued a statement saying that the jail’s cameras have been "upgraded to assure that activities inside the jail are recorded and documented at all times."
Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mike Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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