A suburban New York police department has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in the 2015 death of a mother of eight, New York's top prosecutor said Thursday.
The probe into the death of Raynette Turner while she was in custody at the Mount Vernon Police Department marked the first time Attorney General Eric Schneiderman undertook an investigation into a fatal police encounter since Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the attorney general authority in those cases.
At a news conference in Westchester County on Thursday, Schneiderman said a seven-month investigation found police bore no "criminal culpability." However, his office has compiled a report that includes several policy recommendations for the police department, including measures that would speed up arraignments of arrestees.
Relatives had disputed an autopsy that found Turner, 42, died from an enlarged heart and chronic cocaine and morphine use. An attorney for the family did not immediately return a call for comment on Schneiderman's announcement.
Police officials in Mount Vernon, a city of about 68,000 residents that borders New York City, said Turner was arrested July 25, 2015, a Saturday, for stealing a package of crab legs from a wholesale food store. While awaiting a Monday arraignment, she reported not feeling well and was taken by ambulance to a hospital. She was treated for high blood pressure, then returned to her cell a few hours later.
Turner was found dead on July 27.
Investigators from the attorney general's office interviewed more than 40 witnesses and reviewed surveillance video that captured nearly the entire duration of Turner's confinement, authorities said. They also reviewed more than 1,700 pages of medical records as part of the probe.
Among those who asked Cuomo to empower the attorney general to investigate police cases was the mother of Eric Garner, who died after a police chokehold. No officers were indicted in his death.