Ralkina Jones' Last Words in Jail

August 12th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

"I don't want to die in your cell."

Those were some of the final words of Ralkina Jones, a 37-year-old Black woman who was found dead in an Ohio jail cell on July 26. In a body cam video released by the Cleveland Heights Police Department on Tuesday, Jones makes the chilling statement approximately 15 hours before her body was discovered by jail administrators.

No suspicious injuries were noted on the autopsy report, and the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office has not released a cause of death. Jones' family said that they are awaiting the results of an investigation that is currently being conducted by the Cleveland Heights Police Department.

The woman was arrested following a domestic dispute; her ex-husband called the police on July 24, accusing Jones of assaulting him. She was held on charges of felonious assault, domestic violence, and child endangerment.

In the video, Jones can be heard discussing a number of health issues she had and the prescription medications that she needed to take on a regimented basis. She expressed concerns about getting her medicine administered and staying in contact with her family. Throughout the intake process, the officers appeared sympathetic to Jones, going so far as to recommend accommodations such as moving her to a cell with a phone so that she could call her family. But her current cell, the officer said, would allow jail personnel to monitor her health more effectively.

She reported suffering from a variety of health issues, including seizures, ADHD, depression, and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), which is associated with lightheadedness and can sometimes cause people to faint upon standing. Jones also had a heart murmur, her sister said.

"Jones was taken to a doctor a few hours after the recorded conversation," Cincinnati.com reported. "A jail employee found her appearing 'lethargic' the evening of July 25. She was evaluated and released within a few hours."

According to a statement released by the Cleveland Heights Police Department, jail officials checked on Jones several times throughout the night. But on the morning of July 26, around 7:30 a.m., an administer said he found the woman unresponsive in the bed of her cell. Emergency medical professionals unsuccessfully attempted to revive Jones and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Jones was one of five Black women found dead in jail cells in the last two weeks of July. Jones' death, along with the death of Sandra Bland and others contributed to a Twitter trend that was marked by the hashtag, #IfIDieInPoliceCustody. The hashtag called for criminal justice reform, greater transparency for jails and prisons, and better treatment of inmates.