San Diego

Child of Woman Who Overdosed in Back of Police Car Sues City of San Diego

Lawsuit alleges police officer ignored Aleah Jenkins cries for medical attention

The young child of a woman that died from an overdose while in police custody is suing the city of San Diego, it’s police chief, and the cops who were transporting her as she suffered from an overdose in the back of a police cruiser in November of last year. 

The lawsuit, filed by the young boy, known as J.K.J, and his father Jeremy Hillyer, say the officers involved were negligent, failing to administer medical care to Aleah Mariah Jenkins as she allegedly cried out for help while handcuffed in the police car. She lost consciousness by the time she had arrived at the station downtown. She died one week later.

The night of her arrest, Jenkins was a passenger in a vehicle that cops pulled over during a traffic stop in La Jolla on the night of November 27, 2018. During the stop police found small baggies of drugs in the seat next to Jenkins.

San Diego Police Officer Lawrence Durbin placed Jenkins under arrest and put her in the back of his police cruiser. Body cam footage released to the public shows Jenkins crying out for help. Officer Durbin checked on her briefly but continued on their way to police headquarters in downtown.

WARNING: This video contains graphic content.

Upon their arrival Jenkins was unresponsive in the backseat. She was taken to a hospital where she died one week later from a lethal dose of methamphetamine and lack of oxygen to her brain.

District Attorney Summer Stephan later declined pressing charges against officer Durbin.

“Aleah Jenkins’ death was preventable,” reads a statement from the law firms West Coast Trial Lawyers and Navab Law who are representing Jenkins’ son and his father.

“At all times while she was in the custody of the San Diego police officers named as defendants she was in visible physical distress. She begged for help. The officers not only ignored her pleas, they treated them with disdain and inhumanity. Their malicious indifference to [Jenkin’s] serious medical needs was the sole cause of her death.”

A spokesperson for the law firms claim Jenkins would have likely survived if officer Durbin had sought medical attention during their ride to the station.

“As a result, Aleah’s son, with whom she had a close and loving relationship, will miss the care, support and encouragement of a mother, and her presence at the important milestones of his life. He will suffer because the police could not muster one ounce of human compassion. That’s a travesty and something no one else should ever be forced to endure.”

San Diego’s City Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

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