The death of Priscilla Slater in the Harper Woods lockup earlier this year was folded into summer protests over George Floyd and other Black Americans who have died in police custody. But the precise cause of Slater's death has been unclear; she was found in the cell by jail officers, and apparently no one was with her when she died.
A previous autopsy suggested the cause was an irregular heartbeat caused by "abnormally angled coronary arteries," but now the Oakland County Medical Examiner, who was asked to review the record by the Free Press, has a different theory.
Because of the condition of Slater's liver, (Oakland County Chief Medical Examiner Ljubisa J.) Dragovic said in an interview this week, "the most likely diagnosis that one can propose, without being able to see the details of the microscopic slides, is that she died from alcohol withdrawal. If she was not monitored in the cell, that is a big problem."
The autopsy report notes that video of the jail cell appears to show Slater having a seizure around 5:10 a.m. Her body was discovered in the cell more than seven hours later, at 12:30 p.m.
Slater was arrested at the Parkcrest Inn on the I-94 service drive in Harper Woods, after her boyfriend allegedly fired shots in the motel's courtyard.
Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal, another medical expert quoted in the story says:
"Some people may necessitate admission to an ICU, and can experience severe problems. If they have a history of regular alcohol use, they [jail officials] need to regularly assess them for symptoms of alcohol withdrawal."