Lead Story West Edition

Settlement reached in woman’s jailhouse death

LOS ANGELES — The mother of a woman who was found hanging in her jail cell at the Metropolitan Detention Center on Easter Sunday in 2016 will receive nearly $300,000 to settle a lawsuit with the city of Los Angeles.

The City Council agreed Dec. 13 to pay Lisa Hines $298,000 stemming from the death of Wakiesha Wilson, 36, who was pronounced dead at County-USC Medical Center on March 27, 2016.

The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruled in January that the actions of four LAPD officers did not contribute to Wilson’s death, and the District Attorney’s Office determined in July that there was insufficient evidence to prove that any officers were criminally liable.

Wilson’s death became a focus of the local Black Lives Matter movement, as they repeatedly chanted her name at police commission meetings while openly questioning whether she committed suicide.

Coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter said an autopsy determined that Wilson’s death was a suicide by hanging, but Wilson’s family and the activists raised questions about her death, insisting she was not despondent and would not have taken her own life.

Wilson’s mother filed a $35 million claim against the city in September 2016 that sought answers about her daughter’s death.

According to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck’s report on Wilson’s death, she was arrested by Central Area patrol officers on March 26, 2016, after they were dispatched to a medical facility in the 1300 block of Hope Street to investigate a 911 call regarding a person assaulting a patient.

Wakiesha Wilson

Wilson was determined to be the person who assaulted another patient and was arrested and brought to the Central Station. A lieutenant reported Wilson did not appear to have any signs of mental illness and was “very coherent and forthright.”

After being taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center, Beck wrote that Wilson had been assessed by the Central Division watch commander, a detention center nurse and a physician assistant prior to being booked.

While being booked, Wilson told officers she was cold and requested a long-sleeve shirt, which she was given, Beck wrote.

Officers reported Wilson was “a little out of it,” and uncooperative at times while in custody, according to the chief’s report.

A witness — presumably Wilson’s cellmate or a nearby inmate — reported that Wilson called to officers on the intercom, saying, “I’m suicidal,” but LAPD officers on duty said Wilson did not make any suicidal statements, Beck wrote.

About 8:25 a.m. on March 27, detention center personnel conducted a safety check of Wilson’s cell and found she had hung herself with her garment, Beck wrote, and added that officers tried to revive Wilson with CPR but were unsuccessful.

Wilson’s mother claimed that the LAPD added to her suffering during the experience by claiming they did not know her daughter’s whereabouts.

Hines told reporters last year she spent the day after her daughter died trying to locate her after she failed to show up for a court hearing.

She said jailers told her they did not know her daughter’s whereabouts and when a watch commander finally gave her a phone number, there was no forewarning that it would be to the coroner’s office, only that it would connect her with an investigator.

“If this was your child, and you were looking for her, and somebody gave you a number to call … and when you do call the number, the coroner’s office answers, what would be going on in your body, mind and soul?” she asked.