MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Questions remain abound as authorities continue their investigation into the death of a woman in a Mount Vernon Police Department holding cell earlier this week.
Officials from the New York State Attorney General’s office and Westchester County District Attorney’s office have joined Mount Vernon detectives as they investigate how Raynette Turner , a mother of eight, died while awaiting arraignment in her cell.
Turner, 42, was arrested on Friday for shoplifting, narrowly missing the cutoff to see a judge before the weekend, where she would have likely been released on her own recognizance. She fell ill and was treated at Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital Sunday night before being returned to her cell, where she was found dead at approximately 3 p.m.
Initial autopsy results that were released this week were inconclusive. The official cause of death remains unclear, though Turner had a history of hypertension and had undergone bariatric surgery for weight loss. A spokesman from the District Attorney’s office said that they are awaiting toxicology and microbiology reports.
Mount Vernon Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Burke has stated that “no foul play” is suspected in Turner’s death.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has sent a team of investigators to Mount Vernon courtesy of a recent order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that grants him the power to investigate “certain matters involving matters involving the death of an unarmed civilian, in custody or not, caused by a law enforcement officer.”
According to officials from the Attorney General’s office, the probe is to determine whether a full investigation into the death is necessary.
“Members of our Special Investigations and Prosecution Unit are on the ground in Westchester reviewing the matter to determine if it falls within the parameters of the executive order," Attorney General spokesman Eric Soufer said.
On Thursday, Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis offered his condolences to Turner’s friends, family and loved ones. He stated that because the investigation into her death is ongoing, he will wait until results surface before making an in-depth statement about her passing.
“There are a number of law enforcement agencies investigating this matter, therefore we are unable to make more detailed statements that may compromise the investigation. We assure you that this investigation will be expeditious and thorough,” he said.
Although funeral arrangements have not yet been announced, Davis added that several locals have reached out to him in an effort to assist the Turner family during this trying time.
“This is a time for mourning. I have been contacted by people who wish to help defray the cost of funeral arrangements as well as others concerned with the situation and will be speaking with the family,” he said. “Politics aside, I call on all to respect the life of this young woman. I want to thank the citizens of Mount Vernon and from all over for their patience while a thorough investigation moves forward.”
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