Officials blame meth for pregnant Native American woman’s death in jail — but family says she was not a user
The family of 24-year-old Sarah Lee Circle Bear questioned an autopsy report saying she died from overdosing on methamphetamines, Red Power Media reported.
“How did she get that much meth?” asked her father, Terrence Circle Bear.
As the Associated Press reported, state Attorney General Marty Jackley said that there was “acute methamphetamine and amphetamine toxicity” in Circle Bear’s blood. The results are not available to the public, he said, but he is investigating where the the substance came from.
Jackley said his office was asked by Brown County Sheriff Mark Milbrandt to review Circle Bear’s death. Milbrandt did not comment on the autopsy results.
Sarah Circle Bear died on July 6 at an Aberdeen, South Dakota hospital, after being found unresponsive in her cell. She had been taken into custody on a bond violation. Witnesses said jail officials told her to “quit faking” when she said she was in pain while being taken to the cell.
Her older sister, Adrienne Yancey, told Indian Country Today Media Network that she obtained the jumpsuit she was wearing at the time of her death.
“They just handed it to me in a white bag,” Yancey said. “It just smelled weird, so I opened it up and I just seen the blood on there. So I just wrapped it back up.”
County coroner Mike Carlsen has said that the blood stemmed from an auto accident Circle Bear suffered before being taken into custody. However, Jackley later said that the autopsy showed no signs of injury that could have contributed to her death.
Her family also rejected the allegation that Circle Bear was using meth because she was pregnant with her third child and was meeting with doctors following complications with the birth of her youngest son. Her father said he is meeting with an attorney regarding the case.
“I’m getting justice for a native girl that was crying and they didn’t want to help her,” he said.
[h/t The Free Thought Project]