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Pressure on New York AG to investigate death cases at Erie County Jail

Posted: 5:55 PM, Sep 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-07 17:55:08-04

Erie County Legislature Majority Leader April Baskin is calling on New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood to investigate the death of 27-year-old India Cummings. 

“I don’t believe that people should be treated anything less than people,” Baskin said. 

Cummings died after being held at Erie County Holding Center in 2016. It was 16 days after her arrest for stealing a car. A recent report from New York Commission of Correction recommended the cause of death to be ruled a homicide. The commission’s report also attributed her death to a traumatic injury she received during her arrest and she was deprived of medical care and water at the Holding Center. 

“I don’t believe it’s right. I don’t believe it’s human,” Baskin said. 

The Commission also blamed the holding center for not keeping proper documentation of Cummings’ time at the facility. The deputy log book reveals Cummings was pounding on her door yelling for help and said she couldn’t breathe. However, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard is challenging the state’s report and its findings. 

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn turned the case files over to New York Attorney General’s Office. A conflict of interest in the DA’s office is why the case is in the AG’s office. Apparently someone working in the district attorney’s office is married to someone working at the Holding Center. 

“I’m the one who proactively made the motion in court to either have the attorney general or a special prosecutor appointed,” Baskin said. 

Now the AG’s office is combing through files to see if executive order 147 gives Underwood the jurisdiction as a special prosecutor to investigate the case. 

The AG’s office is expected to make an announcement on September 20th. 

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