Protesters demand answers in Priscilla Slater’s death at Harper Woods mayor’s home

The 38-year-old woman was found unresponsive in a holding cell Wednesday; cause of death still unknown

The Mayor said he wants people to know he’s not racist and that he said most of his neighbors are black.

HARPER WOODS, Mich. – Michigan State Police have launched an investigation into the death of 38-year-old Priscilla Slater.

Slater was found unresponsive in a holding cell Wednesday after being arrested in connection with a shooting incident on Tuesday.

READ: 38-year-old woman dies in holding cell in Harper Woods; cause unknown

Police said two supervisors and four civilian aids in the Harper Woods Police Department are on administrative leave as MSP launches its investigation.

Priscilla’s death sparked multiple protests, including in front of the mayor’s home Sunday.

MORE: Protest held after 38-year-old woman dies in holding cell in Harper Woods

Harper Woods mayor Kenneth Poynter’s home was covered in signs that represent the Black Lives Matter movement, left by a passionate group of people marching in the streets.

Protesters said the six employees being placed on leave wasn’t good enough and that Slater’s family deserves answers.

“We had to make a courtesy call to his front porch so he’ll understand that we will not accept you devaluing and dismissing, denigrating and degrading this sister and her family,” Teferi Brent said.

Brent said the protest is because of an incident that happened over the weekend where the mayor’s wife ripped up a protester’s sign while some of Priscella’s loved ones were present. Poynter said it was a sincere attempt to offer condolences gone wrong.

“But yet they had enough energy to reach down, get a sign off the ground and tear it up in the face of that family,” Brent said.

“To take a sign during a time like this for a family that’s mourning and there’s no explanation of why she’s dead on their cement floor?" asked Tamara Liberty-Smith. "That’s totally unacceptable,”

The protesters said the sign carried the slogan Black Lives Matter, while Mrs. Poynter insists it was an obscenity toward the police.

Both sides are looking for answers as they await the autopsy results.

Either way both sides are looking for answers as the we await autopsy results of how the 38-year-old died in a cell, and the outcome of the Michigan State Police’s Investigation.

The Mayor said he wants people to know he’s not racist and that he said most of his neighbors are black. He said his wife only ripped up the sign because it’s believed it was held by a man who was rude to her during the protest. Poynter said he respects the right to protest.

Harper Woods officials said the cause of Slater’s death won’t be known until the autopsy report is completed. The investigation is ongoing.

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.