The family of a Millville woman who died in custody at the Cumberland County jail isn’t satisfied with a finding that the 24-year-old killed herself in her cell, their attorney said Friday.
Alissa Allen’s mother, Christine, learned of the finding during a very brief meeting with officials from the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office earlier this week, said the attorney, Conrad Benedetto.
Benedetto said the officials told Christine Allen the same thing that they announced publicly on Thursday: that they found “no cause” to challenge a finding by the Southern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office that Allen died from suicide by hanging, and that there was no evidence of criminal activity.
“There was really no explanation given with regard to what methodology, steps or procedures were taken in the investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office that led them to arrive at their conclusion,” Benedetto said.
“After all these months to basically be told within five minutes what their conclusion was, it’s sad,” he said. “For any parent to lose a child in any manner, it’s very heartwrenching.”
Benedetto said the family currently has no legal action pending in connection with Allen’s death, but said, “We will be seeking more information.”
The family of a Millville woman who died in custody at the Cumberland County jail last month…
Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae issued a brief statement Thursday regarding Allen’s death. Webb-McRae said in the statement, “Investigation by this office finds no cause to question the medical examiner’s finding nor probable cause to believe that the death of Ms. Allen was the result of the crime.”
The statement contained no information as to the factors that caused the Prosecutor’s Office to make that determination.
Webb-McRae couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Benedetto is the second attorney to represent the Allen family in connection with the woman’s death.
The family’s first attorney, Robert Sandman, said earlier that he was preparing preservation of evidence requests for Millville and Cumberland County governments. He said he was filing the notices so no evidence, including various videotapes, is “altered, destroyed or lost.”
Allen wound up in the county jail after she was arrested by Millville police. The county jail falls under the jurisdiction of Cumberland County government.
Allen, of West Main Street, was found “alone and unresponsive” in her county jail cell at 5:50 a.m. March 22, authorities said. Allen was admitted to the facility in Bridgeton during the early-morning hours of March 21, they said.
Allen’s admission to the jail followed a traffic stop on North High Street in Millville at 11:55 p.m. March 20, Millville police said.
Allen was a passenger in a car that was stopped for having no operating taillights, police said. A check by police of the people in the car revealed Allen was wanted on a warrant issued by Millville Municipal Court, they said.
A further investigation at the scene of the motor vehicle stop resulted in Allen being charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and failure to wear a seatbelt, police said.
Police said Allen was placed in the jail in connection with the outstanding warrant.
Benedetto is also the attorney for families involved in two other high-profile deaths in Cumberland County.
Benedetto represents the widow of Jerame C. Reid, who was fatally shot by two Bridgeton police officers in Bridgeton on Dec. 30.
Benedetto said earlier Lawanda Reid wanted the Prosecutor’s Office to turn its use-of-deadly-force investigation surrounding Reid’s death over the state Attorney General’s Office or another “independent law-enforcement agency.” The Attorney General’s Office declined to take control of the investigation.
Benedetto also represents the family of Phillip White, who died while in the custody of Vineland police on March 31. Some witnesses alleged police used excessive force in subduing White.
Police said they were trying to restrain White, whose alarming actions prompted their arrival on the scene in the 100 block of West Grape Street.