The family of Priscilla Slater, a Black woman who died in police custody at the Harper Woods, Michigan Police Department Wednesday, is seeking answers. Slater's family said they had not been told about the circumstances of the 38-year-old's death. During a Friday night protest, demonstrators confronted Harper Woods Mayor Ken Poynter after his wife reportedly tore up a sign at the event.
Slater's family told WXYZ she was arrested at the Parkcrest Inn on Tuesday but were never informed why. The next day, they were told Slater was dead. She was found unresponsive around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, and medics tried to revive her. She was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead 15 minutes later. Police told Fox2 Slater was arrested on gun charges Monday in connection to a shooting at a motel. Lewis Nichols of Detroit was also charged in the shooting.
"I'm mad about it and I want justice for Priscilla, yes I do," Slater's aunt, Jennifer Rand, told WXYZ. "It sounds like it's a coverup like they're covering something up." Slater's sister Laquita Gill said police went to their house Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. to tell them, "she was found dead in her cell." Beyond that, police have given them no additional information, the family said.
Friday's protest in Harper Woods became even tenser after Poynter's wife allegedly ripped a sign held by a protester after her husband was insulted, reports Fox2. Poyner and the Harper Woods police chief both attended the protest to answer questions about Slater's death. "There is no hiding of anything, everything is there, okay," the police chief said. The Wayne County Medical Examiner has not determined a cause of death yet while they await the toxicology report.
"I think when we talk about what is going on right now, everyone is heated, everyone is frustrated," Michigan Sen. Adam Hollier, who attended the protest and represented the area, told Fox2. He confirmed Michigan State Police would do an independent investigation into Slater's case. He added that a "good investigation" takes time to complete, but people do not trust the police to complete one. Slater's family also hired an attorney to conduct another investigation into her death.
Slater's death happened amid the protests of police brutality and racial inequality following George Floyd's killing while in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. On Friday night, there was a police-involved death in Atlanta, where 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed outside a Wendy's after he was found sleeping in his car. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned after Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said it was an unnecessary use of deadly force.