BALTIMORE (WJZ) — What happened to a 52-year-old woman in Baltimore City Police custody that caused her to go unconscious in her cell a short time after her arrest on Sunday?
The answer to that question is still being sought by the police department’s Special Investigations Response Team.
She is in critical condition at St. Agnes Hospital after being found unconscious in her cell after her arrest.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis updated the media on the investigation at a press conference Wednesday morning.
The woman, who has been identified as Kim Doreen Chase by family members, was taken into custody because she had a warrant out for her arrest in southern Maryland, Davis said.
The family has questions about her medical condition and whether she should have ever been put into a cell.
“It’s really sad, she was somebody that I depended on,” said niece Jeshaiah Gibson. “I’m very worried about her. I hope everything is OK.”
Gibson said her aunt recently got out of the hospital after a bout with pneumonia. She was picked up on an outstanding warrant from Calvert County.
“She would die in jail before court. They didn’t treat her right,” she said. “She should not have been in a jail cell.”
The commissioner suspended a lieutenant. He says after arresting Chase, officers allowed her to return home for 20 minutes where she got clothing and allowed a family member to braid her hair.
The commissioner insisted Monday there’s no evidence of use of force by the police and says the woman never asked for medical help. He still suspended one lieutenant and placed two officers on administrative duty while the investigation is underway.
“We are charged as police officers with maintaining strict care in custody of all persons under arrest, and that involves limiting their movement, that involves getting them safely transported to either central booking or a police station as soon as possible, so I have questions about some things that our investigation will answer.”
Davis urged people to look beyond the fact that officers allowed the woman to return to her home and have a family member braid her hair while they waited for a prisoner transport wagon for between 20 and 30 minutes.
“OK, we know her hair was braided,” he said. “Let’s get over that for a second. What else happened while she was inside of the home? Was something introduced to her that is not captured on the body-worn camera footage? And that’s why we have an investigation.”
Davis said the hair braiding “is not normal, but you know, one of the reasons why we investigate things are to figure out why decisions were made, to get answers to unanswered questions or concerns, and then to make a judgement with how to improve either from a training perspective or from a disciplinary perspective.”
Davis also said he’s not sure if there is going to be video available from inside the police station where the woman fell unconscious, though there is body-worn camera and transport van footage.
“She has a medical history and her medical history certainly may eventually serve to explain some of the reasons why she’s hospitalized,” Davis explained, though HIPAA prevents them from releasing further details about her condition.
Toxicology reports have been completed at the hospital where the woman is being treated, and will soon be made available to police.