A Black Teen Died This Week In An Alabama Jail Cell, And Authorities Say It Was Suicide [UPDATE]

The jailhouse deaths of two young women this week have led to questions.
UPDATE : 7/24, 8:50 a.m. -- Kindra Chapman's family released a statement on Thursday mourning the loss of their 18-year-old daughter and confirming the jail's contention that her death was a suicide.
"We want the world to know what a wonderful soul she was. At the same time, we want the world to know that her death was a suicide. We have hired lawyers to investigate how this could have happened while she was in police custody," they wrote in a statement released to AL.com. "We are so grateful for the outpouring of support for Kindra. We are devastated that she is gone, and we miss her terribly."
Earlier in the week, Kathy Brady, Kindra Chapman's mother, had told AL.com that she believed police killed her daughter and were covering up the truth about the teenager's death.
Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls said Thursday that his office is still in the process of reviewing an investigation into Chapman's death, but that he has so far "seen no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing in [her] arrest and detention."
A final autopsy report is still forthcoming.

An Alabama teen died in her jail cell earlier this week, just over an hour after she was booked into the facility. Authorities claim the cause of death was suicide by asphyxiation.

According to AL.com, officials with the Homewood City Jail said Kindra Darnell Chapman, who was black, was processed on Tuesday, July 14, at 6:22 p.m., following an arrest for first-degree robbery. Police say Chapman, 18, stole a cell phone from another individual on the street.

Chapman was last seen alive at 6:30 p.m on Tuesday, when staff conducted an initial welfare check. At 7:50 p.m., jailers returned to find Chapman unresponsive. Authorities say she hanged herself. She was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The Homewood police are investigating her death, according to local WSFA. Bill Yates, chief deputy coroner for Jefferson County, told The Huffington Post that the results of Chapman's autopsy are still pending. Calls to the Homewood city jail and police department were not immediately returned.

As The Root notes, Chapman's death comes amid increasing anger about the death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland, found in her cell at the county jail in Hempstead, Texas.

Bland, who was also black, was pulled over for improper signaling on July 10 in Waller County, Texas. An altercation ensued, and in a video posted to YouTube, deputies can be seen arresting Bland as she accuses them of slamming her head into the ground. She was charged with assaulting an officer and booked into jail. Three days later, Bland was dead, and authorities have claimed she hanged herself.

While reports of apparent jailhouse suicides are not uncommon -- authorities say a 50-year-old inmate hanged himself in a Washington state jail on Tuesday -- the particular circumstances of Bland's death have been met by many with skepticism. In a statement, Bland's family said they are "confident that she was killed and did not commit suicide." On Friday, the FBI joined the Texas Rangers in an investigation into her death.

The close timing of the two alleged suicides has led to a clamor on Twitter, as some believe the deaths may fit into a broader pattern of police violence against people of color, especially black Americans.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Kim Bellware contributed reporting.

This story has been updated to reflect a number of developments in the investigation into Kindra Chapman's death.

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