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Woman found hanged in jail cell, family suspects foul play

Wakiesha Wilson, 36, was a mother

Juliana Norwood | 4/7/2016, 1:23 p.m.
Sounding eerily familiar to the recent case of Ms. Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old Black woman who was found hanged in ...

Sounding eerily familiar to the recent case of Ms. Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old Black woman who was found hanged in a jail cell in Texas—her death classified as a suicide, but mired in suspicion of foul play by the hands of police—a new woman, Ms. Wakiesha Wilson, 36, was recently found hanging from a telephone pole in her cell at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center. Coroner’s officials say Wilson hanged herself, but her family says that makes no sense.

According to Wilson’s family, she was arrested on charges of assault after a physical altercation on the evening of March 26, 2016. On Easter Sunday morning, Wilson called home to give the family details of her upcoming hearing, which was scheduled for the following Tuesday, and to sing Happy Birthday to her mother. At the end of the call Wilson said she would call back later that evening, but she never did.

“She planned on coming to my house in Riverside after she was released. She told us to come to court because she was coming back home with me,” Wilson’s cousin, Quanesha Francis, said.

The family went to court Tuesday, but Wilson never showed. And after sitting through both the morning and afternoon session, the family questioned court officials who said Wilson’s name was not on the calendar at all.

When the family called the jail for answers, they were given a contact number for which they were told was for an investigator. According to the family, instead, that number was to the morgue.

The coroner had Wilson’s time of death listed at 9:24 a.m. on March 27, just shy of two hours after she spoke with her family on the phone.

Wilson’s family has since enlisted the help of the NAACP to get answers for what happened to Wakiesha. According to Francis, they were told Wilson argued with an officer because she was tired and refused to be moved from her cell to a different one. Shortly after that, is when she was found dead.

Jail officials reportedly claimed that after Wilson’s body was discovered, it was sent to USC Medical Center, but after contacting the hospital, the family was told there was no record of Wilson being there. To this date, Wilson’s body still has not been released from the coroner.

These inconsistencies have caused Wilson’s family to suspect that there may be a cover-up related to her death, reminding the public that Wakiesha had a 13-year-old son, and was not suicidal.