SAN DIEGO — The family of 24-year-old Aleah Jenkins, the woman who died while in police custody last month, believes her death could have been prevented.
Jenkins was arrested in La Jolla on November 27 for an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for possession of methamphetamine, said police.
According to police, Jenkins became nauseous and started vomiting at the scene. Officers called for paramedics, but canceled the request after Jenkins said she just had an upset stomach. Jenkins was then taken to the San Diego Police Headquarters for processing.
At some point, an officer noticed that she became unresponsive and appeared to be in medical distress, said police. Jenkins was taken to a local hospital and put on life support, where she died on December 6th. The cause of death was a possible overdose, said police.
On Friday, Jenkins’ family held a press conference outside of the San Diego Police Headquarters, alleging that the officers involved in the arrest — officers Nicholas Casciola and Jason Taub — should have taken her to the hospital sooner.
After making dozens of phone calls to the San Diego Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office, police allowed Aleah’s mother, Keiala Jenkins, to watch police-worn body camera footage of the arrest, according to a family spokesperson.
Jenkins claims the footage shows her daughter in the patrol car asking the officer for help and gasping for breath. “She was asking for help. I heard her,” Jenkins said.
Tasha Williamson, a family spokesperson and community advocate, believes that the officer should have taken Aleah to a hospital immediately after her arrest. “Along the freeway path there are a number of hospitals; there are a number of medical offices where medical experts are who could have diagnosed her, could have treated her, could have saved her life,” Williamson said.
“We extend our condolences to Miss Jenkins on the loss of her daughter earlier this month,” the San Diego Police Department said in a statement.
The Homicide Unit submitted its investigation to the District Attorney’s Office for review, as is protocol in all in-custody deaths.