HARPER WOODS, Mich. – Charges will not be filed in the death of Priscilla Slater, a woman who died while in custody at the Harper Woods Police Department jail.
Slater died while in custody on June 10, 2020. She was found unresponsive inside a holding cell. Her death led to protests outside city hall, with her family demanding to know how she died.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner said Slater died of cardiac dysrhythmia and the manner of her death was natural, involving no foul play.
READ: Officials say woman who died at Harper Woods jail died of ‘natural causes’
Harper Woods asked the Michigan State Police to launch an investigation. The investigation led to the firing of a deputy chief and a patrol officer, city officials said.
City officials said members of the police department tried to conceal and manipulate evidence in the in custody death investigation of Slater. Deputy Chief John Vorgitch and patrol officer Michael Pineau have been fired, according to authorities.
Michigan State Police investigated the incident and determined that Slater had pre-existing factors that contributed to the fatal heart attack. Police said there is insufficient evidence to prove that the civilian aide on duty when Slater died failed to perform his duties.
Read the full statement from Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy below:
On June 10, 2020, Ms. Priscilla Slater was 37-years-old when she died of natural causes while housed in a Harper Woods Police Department jail cell. She was cogent and appropriate when speaking with the police and jail staff and did not complain of any medical issues while she was in the jail. There was no evidence that she was in any way harmed or mistreated while in custody. This case investigation took an extraordinary amount of time and attention due to a number of circumstances outlined in our press release.
An exhaustive investigation was conducted by the Michigan State Police. We have looked at all of the facts and evidence in the case. This included the findings of the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office, as well as those of an independent medical examiner. It took several months to obtain Ms. Slater’s medical records which were important to any findings made in this case. All of the medical experts that reviewed the case determined that Ms. Slater died a natural death from Sudden Cardiac Death, in other words, a heart attack while she was in jail. She had significant pre-existing factors that likely contributed to the heart attack.
There is also insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the civilian aide on duty when Ms. Slater died failed to perform his duties or performed them in a negligent way. Nor is there any way to show that in the brief period after Ms. Slater’s heart attack whether medical intervention might have saved her life.
I have met with Ms. Slater’s sister to explain our decision in this matter. While our thoughts and prayers are with Ms. Slater’s family, for the reasons cited no charges will be issued.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy Previous coverage
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