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An Ohio woman whose death in police custody is being investigated, may have been improperly medicated by authorities, newly released documents show.
Ralkina Jones, 37, was found dead in a jail cell on July 26 after being arrested by the Cleveland Heights Police Department two days earlier following a fight with her ex-husband outside of a bar.
On Wednesday, authorities released Jones’ prisoner medication log as well as the main jail log — and officials admit there is a discrepancy: Jones’ prisoner log indicates that she was given medications twice over the course of about 24 hours, while the jail log indicates that drugs were dispensed three times.
Her medications are listed on her prisoner medication log as: atenolol (blood pressure), gabapentin (anti-epileptic), escitalopram (anti-anxiety), sumatripitan (migraine), oxycodone (pain), and zolpidem (sedative).
“We note that the Medical Log Sheet reflects fewer medications dispensed to Ms. Jones than documented in the Jail Log," read a statement from the office of Elizabeth Rothenberg, director of law for the City of Cleveland Heights. "This matter is under investigation along with the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s investigation of the cause of Ms. Jones’s death.”
Dr. Jeannie Lee, an associate pharmacy professor from the University of Arizona, reviewed the logs for NBC News and said that there was potential for adverse drug interactions and that it appears Jones received double the normal dosage of escitalopram.
“The escitalopram here, it looks like she was given it twice — in the morning at 10:43 and also in the evening time and that's a once a day drug," said Lee. "So I'm wondering why she's taking it twice a day. That's another one of my concerns that particular medication because of the interactions, we probably want her on the lower side of the dose, which she's on 20 mg, but this particular day she received 40, it looks like.
"So there are potential drug interactions that are present there, especially escitalopram and sumatriptan which is a migraine medication," Lee added. "So, she had several medications that basically work on the serotonin receptors in the brain and if you take multiple medications that stimulate serotonin in the brain, that can cause overstimulation and what we call serotonin syndrome — it's a possibility,” she said.
Jones death comes amid a rash of questionable deaths of black women in police custody, and her family has said they want more answers because "she wasn't that sick."
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiners Office is still investigating the cause of death.