Jalani Lovett, 27, died in solitary confinement at the Men’s Central jail in downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 22, and his family is fighting the system to hold the sheriff’s department accountable after drugs were found in his system.
According to The Guardian, in the months following his death, Lovett’s mother and siblings have been fighting for answers and demanding that the sheriff’s department be held accountable for the lack of basic information regarding the death. The county coroner released an autopsy report confirming Lovett’s death was “accidental” and that he had fentanyl and heroin in his system.
His family has since hired an attorney and filed a claim against the county.
Christian Contreras, a local civil rights attorney, filed a claim on behalf of the family, alleging “negligence causing wrongful death” and “deliberate indifference” in violation of the 14th amendment, an “inhumane killing,” and more. He submitted a request for records, hoping to obtain footage, reports, and the names of the deputies involved in his death, but received no response.
Lovett, one of six siblings, loved to play basketball and baseball as a teenager, his mother said. He was an aspiring rapper, a friendly, family man, and a volunteer at the Rainbow Recreation Center in Oakland.
He had been incarcerated since September 2019 for a second-degree robbery charge sentencing and was held in solitary confinement in the months before his death. A sheriff’s spokesperson told the Guardian he was in a “one-man cell” and was not there for disciplinary reasons.
Since the release of the autopsy, Lovett’s family wants to know how he had access to fentanyl and heroin while in solitary confinement. A series of questions have been posed: What were the guards’ actions on duty that night? Why did it take so long for the coroner to release the autopsy report, which the county sent to a reporter this week before the family obtained it?
“I’m a grieving mother, but I’m also an angry mother,” Terry Lovett told the Guardian in an interview. She said the sheriff’s department, which oversees the jail, had repeatedly ignored and disregarded her family’s pleas for answers. “They have no regard for human life.”
“I want the truth to come out,” she added. “To me, this was murder. They killed my son.”
On a family-organized GoFundMe page, Lovett’s mother reveals that her son had “bruising all over his body” and “his whole left arm was pulled out of its socket.” She believes that her son was beaten to death by the L.A. County Sheriff.
The Men’s Central jail is notorious for the widespread abuse of incarcerated people. The guards have long been accused of being part of a “deputy gang” called the 3000 Boys, who allegedly use excessive force. Terry Lovett believes that her son was killed by the gang, so named after the cell block he was housed in, the 3000 block. She claims that at least 19 young Black and brown men have been beaten to death by the deputies.
Skeptical about the updated coroner reports, the family will hire an independent medical examiner. They found the investigation as a whole to have “too many inconsistencies.”