The attorney representing the family of Lanekia Michelle Brown, a pregnant woman found dead in a Mississippi jail cell in December, said officials failed to give Brown the same care as they gave a pregnant white inmate.
Weeks have passed since Madison County officials informed Brown’s mother, Margaret Johnson, on Dec. 23 that her daughter was discovered unresponsive in her jail cell.
Johnson still has not received any answers from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI), which launched an investigation a few days after Brown’s death, WJTV reported on Tuesday.
The family’s attorney, Carlos Moore, said he’s looking into whether Brown, who was about four weeks pregnant, was given proper medical care. He suspects that jail officials discriminated against her.
A witness said Brown complained multiple times about having severe stomach pain, according to Moore, who called her death “suspicious.” Officials would take her each time she complained to see the jail nurse but never sent her outside to a hospital.
“What they did for a white woman who was pregnant in the jail complaining of pain, they had her taken outside the facility, to a hospital to be treated… and that white woman is yet alive,” Moore noted.
Brown, 37, was incarcerated at the Madison County Detention Center while she awaited her trial on a charge of trafficking a controlled substance.
Johnson said a Mississippi trooper came to her home and told her that Brown was dead. A nurse discovered Brown unresponsive in her cell after she had complained about having stomach pains, authorities told Johnson.
County officials did not allow Johnson to see her daughter’s remains or give her more information in the days after her death. The MBI announced plans on Dec. 24 to conduct a probe while the Madison County coroner did an autopsy, but no results had been reported by Tuesday (Jan. 1).
Moore, who’s working on three other suspicious inmate deaths, said there’s apparently systemic racism at the county jail.
“Something is very awry in Madison County, and I employ the sheriff to get a handle on it. We’re glad that the MBI is investigating, but I believe all these suspicious deaths, the Federal Bureau of Investigations needs to get involved. So I will be asking them, the Department of Justice and Congressman Thompson, for the assistance,” he said, adding that African Americans should be “on high alert” if they have loved ones in the county jail or traveling through Madison County.