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Council Member Promises Answers After Woman Dies In Police Custody

Aleah Jenkins rides a swing with her son in this undated photo.

Credit: Keiala Jenkins

Above: Aleah Jenkins rides a swing with her son in this undated photo.

Nearly a month after Aleah Jenkins died while in police custody, there are still questions about what happened to the 24-year-old. Jenkins was arrested on Nov. 27 for an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for possession of methamphetamines.

San Diego Police said during the arrest Jenkins became sick and vomited. Officers called for paramedics, but SDPD said Jenkins told them she only had an upset stomach and the medics were canceled. She was taken to police headquarters where SDPD said she fell into medical distress. An SDPD homicide lieutenant said Jenkins was responsive to questions at headquarters, then was not.

Officers began life-saving efforts, which included CPR, but Jenkins would not recover. She later died at the hospital on Dec. 6. SDPD said during the medical intervention controlled substances were found in Jenkins clothing.

Homicide detectives are investigating what happened to her. SDPD showed Jenkins’ mother video of the arrest, and she said Aleah was denied medical treatment.

"What I saw from the cameras was that they neglected my child," said Aleah's mother Keiala Jenkins.

Aleah Jenkins was arrested in La Jolla, which falls in council member Barbra Bry’s district one. At the last council meeting of the year, Bry spoke directly to Aleah’s mother.

"You have my commitment that I will work with council member Montgomery who will be chairing our Public Safety and Livable Neighborhood Committee to make sure that you and your community get the answers that you deserve," Bry said.

Bry's chief of staff spoke with SDPD Chief David Nisleit about the incident who indicated there is not a department policy of showing videos to family members during an active investigation.

Newly elected council member Monica Montgomery said in a statement to KPBS, "It is always tragic when a family loses a loved one. My thoughts and prayers are with the Jenkins family as they continue to deal with this difficult time. Police reform remains a top priority for my office. As Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Chair, I will continue to advocate for police accountability and transparency so that we can build trust in our communities where relationships are broken."

It is unclear if an autopsy has been completed by the county medical examiner yet. The records are sealed and video from the officer’s body-worn camera is being withheld.

SDPD homicide investigators said they have shared some findings with the district attorney’s office. The San Diego County District Attorney's office said it has not received the case yet.

San Diego City Council Member Barbara Bry told the mother of Aleah Jenkins she is committed to getting answers after Jenkins died after being in police custody.


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Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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