Sarah Reed was only 30 years old at the time of her death last month. What makes her name the most recent addition to the rapidly growing list of names being remembered on social media is that she died in police custody under mysterious circumstances.
For starters, Reed had been subjected to police brutality and violence while in custody. After being arrested for shoplifting in 2012, she was assaulted by a police officer named James Kiddie. Surveillance footage showed Kiddie grab Reed by her hair, kick and hit her in the head. The officer was eventually found guilty of “common assault” and sentenced to a 150-hour community order. Kiddie was later dismissed from his police duties after the video was released, according to The Independent.
Reed was found unresponsive in her jail cell at Hm Holloway, a prison in London, on Jan. 11.
“Prison staff attempted CPR, but she was pronounced dead shortly after,” according to a Ministry of Justice statement. “As with all deaths in custody, the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation”.
Her family reportedly told Lee Jasper, a British activist, that they were informed Reed somehow managed to suffocate herself while lying down in her bed, which they understandably find suspicious. They also claim they weren’t allowed to see her body, which raises even more suspicions.
An investigation is underway, as is protocol whenever someone dies while in police custody, according to BBC.
Multiple sources are reporting that Reed struggled with mental illness and drug abuse in her past, partially due to the passing of her newborn in 2003. While that is indeed pertinent information, members of the public and media should be wary to hold it against Reed before finding out all of the facts surrounding her death. Especially with all of the unanswered questions surrounding it and her proven history with police brutality.
This tragic tale paints a clear picture that police violence isn’t only an issue that affects black people in the United States, but across the globe as a whole.
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