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Rally at holding center to focus on how inmate was treated before death

An attorney for the family of India Cummings, who died Feb. 21 after being jailed for more than two weeks, plans to shed light on her treatment while she was in custody when he speaks at a rally at 4 p.m. Monday outside the Erie County Holding Center, 40 Delaware Ave.

In a statement Sunday, Buffalo attorney Matthew A. Albert said he will “read portions of sworn statements from witnesses with firsthand knowledge as to Cummings’ treatment at the Holding Center, as well as update the community of the status of a wrongful-death suit being filed on behalf of Cummings’ family.”

Cummings, 27, a Rochester native described by her family as being a normally calm person in good health with no previous criminal offenses, was arrested Feb. 1 on multiple charges after she allegedly hijacked a vehicle in Lackawanna, where she was living at the time, and then struck three cars and a school bus during a police chase. She was held in lieu of $15,000 bail.

Information from her family, acquaintances and police indicated that Cummings had been smoking the synthetic marijuana known as K2, which can bring on hallucinations and violent behavior.

Over the next few days, according to a Sheriff’s Office report, Cummings argued with staff in the jail’s infirmary and punched a female deputy, causing a concussion. On a trip to Erie County Medical Center for treatment of a possible broken bone, Cummings struggled with officers before the drive back to the jail, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Albert said that when she was brought back to ECMC on Feb. 17, she was “brain-dead, in cardiac arrest and with a litany of other highly disturbing physical ailments, including broken bones, severe dehydration and poor kidney function.”

He noted that officials haven’t explained how she was injured and have not released results of an autopsy “despite numerous lawful requests to do so.”

The attorney added that “other statements obtained from witnesses with relevant information contain disturbing allegations concerning the attitude of Erie County sheriff’s (deputies) surrounding Cummings’ death, as well as overall degradation at the county facility.”

Federal monitors have been inspecting the county’s jails in recent years in the aftermath of a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit in 2009 accusing officials of failing to monitor and protect inmates, but the federal inspectors do not monitor the treatment of individuals.

email: danderson@buffnews.com