The death Monday of a Westchester woman in a police jail cell could be the first handled by the state attorney general under an order signed this month removing jurisdiction from local prosecutors when an unarmed civilian dies in a police encounter or in custody.
Speaking after a closed-door question-and-answer session in a Manhattan hotel Wednesday with mostly black and Latino clergy to tout his order, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the questions over how Raynette Turner died was the kind of case he had in mind when he signed the order.
"It is a case that I would want the attorney general to look at," Cuomo said, with Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman at his side.
Turner, a 42-year-old mother of eight, was found dead of undetermined causes on Monday two days in a police holding cell in Mount Vernon to appear in court on a shoplifting charge from Saturday.
Schneiderman said he's sent his investigators there to see whether the case falls under his jurisdiction, but that it's premature to say either way.
The order, signed July 8, transferred jurisdiction to Schneiderman when police kill an unarmed civilian, or there is a significant question whether the civilian was armed and dangerous. The order came after nearly a year of protests over controversial police killings, including of Eric Garner, who died of an apparent chokehold last year in Staten Island.
One of the attendees at Cuomo and Schneiderman's meeting yesterday with the clergy, the Rev. Adolphus Lacey of Bethany Baptist Church in Brooklyn, said he supports the order because, "right now, it looks like justice is not fair."