Los Angeles, CA — In late April, a Los Angeles Police Department detention officers were relieved of duty after the death of inmate Wakiesha Wilson. Roughly two years ago, Wakiesha was wrongly put into isolation, where she would later hang herself using the cloth that was in the room.
The officer who was fired for failing to give an inmate the proper medical attention necessary. Reaunna Bratton was on thin ice at the time of the incident. Just six months earlier, Bratton was suspended for 22 days for failing to check on the welfare of inmates on the second floor. The cell that was being used for Wilson’s isolation and eventual suicide just happened to be on the second floor. According to security tapes from the jail, Bratton and another officer walked past the cell, where Bratton was slumped on the floor. A few minutes went by, then a third officer arrived at the cell and began to give Wilson the necessary medical attention.
Wilson’s family, her mother, and son filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of LA in December 2017. The city settled for $298,000, but withheld information that the detention officer was fired. This information could have been used by Wilson’s legal team during the civil trial.
What’s Yosi’s Take?
I am not surprised that the LAPD settled with the family of Wakiesha Wilson. Reaunna Bratton was beyond negligent in her actions on the day of Wilson’s death. There was evidence that Bratton had improperly isolated Wilson in an individual cell upstairs on the day of Wilson’s death, in violation of jail policies. Furthermore, an internal affairs file also revealed that Bratton had been suspended for 22 days six months before Wilson’s death. The suspension was due to the fact that she failed to check on the wellbeing of inmates housed in second floor cells, like the one Wilson was in on the day she died.
We have a situation where an officer was already suspended for improperly supervising inmates. This means that the prison was already on notice that Bratton had issues complying with her job duties, yet they continued to allow her to supervise inmates like Wilson. I would have fired Bratton and not have put her in a position to be negligent like she was on the day Wilson committed suicide. Wilson’s family had a very strong case against Bratton and the LAPD and it was the right move by the LAPD to settle this case and not go to trial.