Last fall, Jalani Lovett, a 27-year-old Black man, died in his jail cell in Southern California. An official autopsy declared his death “accidental,” but a toxicology report showed that Lovett had fentanyl and heroin in his system.
Lovett was in solitary confinement at the time of his death. His family is outraged and wants answers immediately about the circumstances around his demise. They have hired an attorney and filed a claim, the first step before a lawsuit.
The Guardian reports that Lovett was incarcerated at the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles for two years to the month of death on Sept. 22, 2021. After being indicted for a second-degree robbery charge, the aspiring rapper arrived at the facility in September of 2019.
His mother, Terry Lovett, is pushing for answers. She told The Guardian that a little over a year into his incarceration her son was transferred from the general population to solitary confinement and remained there uninterrupted until his death.
The family wants to know why Lovett was being held in a single cell, and they also want to know how he could have had access to fentanyl and heroin if he was in solitary confinement. In the months since Lovett’s death the family has posed a series of questions: Who gave him the drugs? Why did it take so long for the coroner to complete the autopsy? And what were the guards doing the night of his death?
Terry Lovett believes that her son was killed by a subset within the sheriff’s department that runs the jail called the “3000 Boys Gang,” so named after the block of the jail that they work in.
She alleges on a family-organized GoFundMe page, created to help the family during their bereavement, that 3000 Boys are known to have “ritual beatings of inmates as part of initiation ceremonies” for new members. She claims that there are at least 19 young Black and brown who has been beaten to death by the crew.
The 3000 Boys have had a history of terrorizing Men Central jail, according to Knock LA. The outlet was not granted an interview with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, but secured testimony that supported the notion that the 3000 Boys is the largest gang in LASD.
The Citizens Commission for Jail Violence notes that members of the crew all share the same tattoo on their calf, the Roman numeral “III.” The study says that one earns the tattoo by “beating inmates and filing false reports to cover up the abuse.” The website touts numerous testimonies from former deputies and law enforcement agents about how the group has menaced the inmates at MCJ for almost 20 years.
The 65-year-old mother says that while she is grieving, she is also angry because the sheriff’s department will not give her and her family answers about Lovett’s death.
The day after his death, a detective from the sheriff’s homicide bureau informed her about her son’s death. He said that he “was found dead” in his cell at 10 p.m. on Sept. 23.
He told her that there was “drug paraphernalia” found in her son’s cell and that the department was still investigating his death. Almost a month after the death, the family received photographs of Lovett from the coroner’s office. The pictures, the mother states, were taken shortly after he died and showed bruises and possible injuries on his body.
Lovett’s sister, Vanessa Carter, was one of the last people to speak to him before he died. She told The Guardian that she talked with him a few hours before he died and could overhear him arguing with one of the guards. The family believes that this adds motive to why the guards would beat him up and possibly kill him.
His mother says that Lovett’s official death certificate was issued around the time of the coroner’s report and listed the cause of his death as “deferred.” The LA County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s website states that “deferred” means that more information will be given “pending additional investigation.”
She notes that the time of death listed on the death certificate is actually four hours earlier than what they originally told her. Another coroner’s report, released this week, also doesn’t match the information given around his death. It recorded that Lovett had a bruise on his neck and marks on his arms, but “no external trauma” or “life-threatening injuries.”
One new bit of information included in the updated report was that after finding him unresponsive in his cell, deputies issued Narcan and CPR hoping to save his life.
The mother’s lawyer, Christian Contreras, says that the sheriff’s office operated from a place of “negligence causing wrongful death.” He also says that law enforcement is showing “deliberate indifference” and is in violation of the 14th Amendment, perpetuating the “inhumane killing” of an individual.
Lt. Brandon Dean of the department told the newspaper that “nothing out of the ordinary” in happened in Lovett’s death.
Contreras filed in November a request for records, hoping to ascertain footage, reports, and the names of the deputies involved in his death. But like the family’s request for details, this too was ignored. The coroner’s office sent a copy of the autopsy to The Guardian on Tuesday, Jan. 11, before the family or the lawyer saw it.
“They have no regard for human life,” Terry Lovett says, adding, “I want the truth to come out. To me, this was murder. They killed my son.”
The family will hire their own independent medical examiner, saying about the updated reports and the investigation as a whole, “there are too many inconsistencies.”
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