“My child was arrested for a misdemeanor and died in jail. And we want answers!” the teen’s mother, Shashu Battiste, told 11 Alive.
According to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, Battiste-Kosoko was found “in her cell by herself with no obvious signs of injury” during dinner time. The teen was held in the Atlanta City Detention Center since May following an arrest for a misdemeanor bench warrant without bond.
Speaking to Fox 5 Atlanta, the teen’s family said she was diagnosed with a mental illness. The heartbroken family also vowed to uncover “all the facts surrounding this shocking and unfortunate occurrence.”
“If it is discovered that Noni’s death is the fault of those who were responsible for her care, they will be held accountable,” loved ones stated.
Another person at the jail spoke to Fox 5 anonymously, saying staff neglected the woman’s needs.
“The second she stepped into any jail, somebody should’ve been like, ‘She’s not supposed to be here,'” the cellmate told Fox 5. “It was clear she just needed somebody.”
The Department of Justice has been investigating the Fulton County Jail, which faces allegations of discriminating against people with mental health issues and failing to provide adequate medical care at the facility. Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, addressed the allegations during a press conference, ABC News reported.
“Our investigation into these matters is guided by one core principle: People held in jails and prisons do not surrender their constitutional and civil rights at the jailhouse door,” Clarke told reporters.
According to Clarke, data shows 87% of the jail population in Fulton County is Black.
“This is a racial justice issue,” she said.
Clarke referred to the case of Lashawn Thompson, the 35-year-old who died in the Fulton County Jail in September after staying in a bedbug-ridden cell. Photos revealed that Thompson’s body was infested with insects while his cell was littered with garbage.
“Those circumstances were far from isolated,” Clarke said. “Following Mr. Thompson’s death, evidence emerged that the mental health unit where he died was infested with insects and that the majority of people living in that unit were malnourished and not receiving basic care.”