Inmate death prompts state investigation

Family attorney seeking answers

India Cummings

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The New York State Commission of Correction is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of an inmate who was housed at the Erie County Holding Center in Buffalo.

India Cummings, 27, died Sunday at Buffalo General Medical Center. She had already been released from the jail’s custody.

“She had no brain activity the whole time she was at Buffalo General is my understanding. Absolutely,” said Matthew Albert, an attorney for the woman’s family.

Albert, who has put the sheriff’s office on notice to preserve all possible evidence, says the death is prompting questions about her time in the holding center.

“You could say that she clearly was severely neglected and mistreated at the holding center,” Albert said.

Albert says Cummings was known as a “kind, quiet individual.”

Cummings had been in the custody of the holding center since her February 1 carjacking arrest in Lackawanna.

Albert says at the time of the arrest she was acting “irrationally” and “out of character.”

“She was sort of running around from neighbor to neighbor acting in a frantic manner,” he said.

Cummings was transferred to a hospital and released from jail custody February 17 – a little over two weeks after she first entered the downtown jail, according to Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard.

“A medical event occurred that caused her to be sent back out for treatment beyond what could be given here in this facility,” Howard explained to News 4.

Albert claims that Cummings had numerous injuries — including “severe dehydration” — when she arrived at the hospital.

“She presented with a broken arm. Broken ribs. She had a blood clot so that her leg, it would have had to been amputated had she survived,” Albert said.

Sheriff Howard says privacy laws prevent him from discussing specifics, but he did say that Cummings was seen daily by medical and mental health professionals during her time in the holding center.

“I feel at this point from everything that I have seen totally comfortable that our staff has performed appropriately throughout this,” Howard added.

According to a police report, India Cummings was evaluated at the Erie County Medical Center for a “possible broken bone” shortly after arriving at the holding center February 1.

There’s no word on whether that injury was related to the alleged carjacking incident.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the state Commission of Correction says the agency’s medical review board will examine the incident even though Cummings had already been released from jail custody when she died.

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