Six employees of Harper Woods Public Safety placed on leave following mysterious death of woman


Family members and friends of Pricilla Slater outside the Harper Woods Police Department. - TEFERI BRENT
  • Teferi Brent
  • Family members and friends of Pricilla Slater outside the Harper Woods Police Department.

Six employees of the Harper Woods Department of Public Safety have been placed on leave while Michigan State Police investigates the mysterious death of a 38-year-old Black woman who authorities say was found unresponsive in a jail cell.

The employees are two supervisors and four civilian aides.

Priscilla Slater was arrested shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday in connection with an alleged shooting at the Parkcrest Hotel. Less than 12 hours later, police said Slater was found unresponsive in a jail cell. Slater was rushed to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, authorities said.

Police have not released any details surrounding the death and said they are awaiting an autopsy and toxicology report from the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office.

In a statement to the media, Public Safety Director Vincent Smith says “the well-being of all detainees is of the highest priority.”

"I offer my condolences to Ms. Slater’s family. MSP investigators, members of command and myself notified Ms. Slater’s family of the incident in an effort to provide whatever information that may have been available at the time," Smith says. "MSP investigators are diligently investigating this incident with the complete cooperation of the Department. The cause of death will not be known until the results of the autopsy and toxicology report are completed."

Family, friends, and supporters have been protesting the city’s handling of the death, demanding more information. The family also hired attorney Geoffrey Fieger, whose office is launching a separate investigation.

"There is no way the police wouldn't see that somebody was in a serious medical need," Fieger told reporters.

"The indifference to Black lives by the powers that be is astounding, it doesn't happen to rich white people," Fieger added.

Tensions boiled over Friday when the wife of Harper Woods Mayor Kenneth Poynter appeared to rip up a protester’s sign while demonstrators hurled insults at her husband.

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