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19-year-old woman with mental health issues dies in jail cell; family demand answers

Late Noni Battiste-Kosoko

GEORGIA- The family of a teenage woman who died in a jail cell while being held for a misdemeanor are demanding answers about her death.

Noni Battiste-Kosoko was found unresponsive in her Fulton County jail cell in Georgia at around 6.30pm on 11 July by detectives. She had been held at the Atlanta City Detention Center since 20 May on a misdemeanor bench warrant, having failed to show up in court to respond to trespassing and vandalism charges from February.

The sheriff’s office said they found Battiste-Kosoko by herself, and that she had ‘no obvious signs of injury’, with no cause of death yet determined.

Earlier this month, a spokesperson for her family confirmed she battled mental illness, saying they were determined to find out what happened to her.

“Our family is committed to uncovering all the facts surrounding this shocking and unfortunate occurrence,” a statement said.

“If it is discovered that Noni’s death is the fault of those who were responsible for her care, they will be held accountable.”

Her family are desperate to get to the bottom of things, with mum Shashu Battiste telling Atlanta News First: “My child was arrested for a
misdemeanor and died in jail.

“And we want answers!”

A GoFundMe has since been set up by her relatives to help with funeral and legal costs, with attorneys saying they intend to send an Ante Litem notice to Fulton County, suggesting a lawsuit could be on its way.

Dr. Roderick Edmond, attorney for the Battiste family, added: “At this time, all we know is that the Fulton County Jail has major issues with healthcare and Noni died mysteriously while in their custody.”

In July, two days after Battiste-Kosoko’s death, the US Department of Justice, confirmed it had opened a civil investigation into conditions at Fulton County jails.

A press release said the investigation would examine whether Fulton County and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office discriminate against people with psychiatric disabilities inside the jail.

Ryan K. Buchanan, US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said: “All Georgians deserve fairness from the institutions that serve us, including our local jails.

“The recent allegations of filthy housing teeming with insects, rampant violence resulting in death and injuries, and officers using excessive force are cause for grave concern and warrant a thorough investigation.

“This investigation is part of our ongoing efforts to ensure that citizens are safe, and their constitutional rights protected, even while they are in custody.”

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