Police not liable for lady’s death

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — An investigation into the death of a LaPlace woman who was in the custody of the St. John Sheriff’s Office determined that there was no negligence on the part of Sheriff’s Office employees, said a spokesman for the department.

Maj. Mike Tregre, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, said deputies followed all the proper steps while dealing with Cabrina Williams, 42, who was arrested Sept. 7 and passed away Sept. 9 after suffering a cardiac arrest while in Sheriff’s Office custody.

“We’ve determined it was an unfortunate medical event,” said Tregre. “There were no signs that any of our officers did anything wrong.”

Tregre said deputies walked Williams from the jail to a patrol car to be taken to River Parishes Hospital for a medical evaluation following her arrest for disturbing the peace. Williams had been arrested two days before after her husband called police to report that she was exhibiting “uncontrollable behavior.”

Once in the car, deputies noticed that Williams appeared to be falling asleep, but she then became unresponsive. She was given CPR and taken by ambulance to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Tregre said Williams had not been eating and she had become dehydrated.

An autopsy on Williams concluded that blood clots in both lungs contributed to her cardiac arrest St. John Coroner Christy Montegut said. There were no signs of any other conditions. Family members said that Williams suffered from an unspecified mental illness and said the Sheriff’s Office was not properly equipped to handle a person with her type of problems.

According to a report on Williams’ arrest, when the responding female deputy arrived at the home, in the 2400 block of Virginian Colony Drive, she entered a bedroom and found Williams lying on a bed. Williams then physically attacked the deputy and had to be restrained. The deputy suffered minor injuries, but was not taken to the hospital.

The report said the deputy called for additional support and those deputies entered the home, handcuffed Williams, her husband Ralph and their 22-year-old son. Tregre said the two men were not charged and only handcuffed until deputies could figure out what was going on during the incident.