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Protest over woman's unexplained death

Posted at 5:27 PM, Apr 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-05 06:32:33-04

Protestors gathered outside the Erie County Holding Center Monday to protest the death of 27-year-old India Cummings.

After protesting outside the Holding Center, the group moved across Delaware Avenue to the Erie County Court Building. For a time, they blocked traffic, stopping a city parking enforcement vehicle. They then marched down Eagle Street to Franklin Street and the front of the Rath Building.

For a time, protestors blocked Franklin Street.

According to Lackawanna Police, officers were called to Knowlton Avenue last February because Cummings was acting in an irrational manner. When officers arrived, she fled and ran to South Park Avenue, where she flagged down a driver. She then yanked the 57-year-old man out of his vehicle and fled at a high rate of speed.

Police say she hit several cars, including a school bus from the Hamburg School District, then rear-ended a vehicle stopped at a red light at Rosary Avenue and Ridge Road.

Officers broke the vehicle’s window and take her into custody, though they say she was violent while being arrested. One officer injured his hand.

She was being held in the Erie County Holding Center on charges of second degree robbery, third degree criminal possession of stolen property, third degree grand larceny, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, second degree obstruction of governmental administration, second degree harassment and resisting arrest.

According to Matt Albert, the attorney representing the Cummings family, Cummings was taken to Buffalo General Hospital from the Holding Center in cardiac arrest. He says Cummings was severely dehydrated, had broken bones and was brain dead.

Albert says the Holding Center has not explained how those injuries occurred from the time of Cummings’ arrest to the time she was taken to the hospital.

Cummings' death is being investigated by the New York State Commission of Correction, however the agency says it is not technically an “in-custody” death because Cummings was released from custody at the hospital.

Regardless, according to a spokesperson, “the state Commission of Correction and its Medical Review Board still have the legal authority to investigate and report on the circumstances of the incident.”

A spokesperson for the Erie County Sheriff's Office told 7 Eyewitness News that due to pending litigation, the department has been instructed not to comment on the case.