‘You Don’t Want to See This Video’: Outraged Family Demands Transparency for Teen Who Died Mysteriously After Suffering ‘Medical Emergency’ At Tennessee Group Home
A month after a 17-year-old died under the guardianship of a Memphis group home, her family and their lawyers are demanding the organization and law enforcement release video footage of the incident the family claims precipitated her death.
Alegend Jones’ mother, Shona Garner-White, told reporters this week that a surveillance video of her daughter’s final hours inside Youth Villages in the Memphis suburb of Bartlett, Tennessee, is so awful a police insider told her that she was unable finish it.
Jones died at Methodist Hospital in Memphis on Nov. 17, one day after she was taken there from Youth Villages in response to what the nonprofit facility calls “a medical emergency.”
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The day before Jones died she reportedly had been transported from the group home for an appointment at the Shelby County Health Department. It was there, the family claims, that Jones was told to strip in front of two male counselors and she refused, leading to a counselor “body-slamming” her.
Youth Villages disputes this account, saying Jones was accompanied by female counselors for her appointment.
Reports say the teen was taken back to the group home that day, and that’s where “it is alleged that over a dozen counselors at Youth Villages assaulted and battered this teenage child,” according to civil rights attorney Ben Crump.
Crump has been hired by the family to represent their interests. At a press conference on Thursday, Dec. 21, held at the local NAACP chapter building, he demanded transparency from all parties involved.
“This should not be that difficult to get to the truth. They act like this cause of death is such a mystery,” the attorney said, according to Fox 13.
He added if authorities at the facility or in law enforcement wanted them to shut up, they should simply “show the video.”
“The video will show us what happened,” Crump said. “Everybody will be able to make logical conclusions based on the diagnosis and the video, that will answer all the questions.”
The bereaved mom said she spoke to a sergeant with the Bartlett Police Department about the video and the woman told her she didn’t want to see the video of her daughter’s last moments.
“I asked her about the video and she said, ‘Shona, you don’t want to see this video.’ She said, ‘I’m a mother and I couldn’t watch all this video.’ I said, ‘Is it that bad?’ And she hugged me and we both cried. She said ‘It’s just that bad,’” said Garner-White.
A public information officer for the BPD maintains the force has no knowledge of a video of the incident.
Youth Villages stated that administrators handed over the video to “all relevant public safety and health authorities”.
At the news conference, the family said the girl’s medical records revealed conditions such as brain compression, brain death, kidney failure, cerebral edema, rhabdomyolysis, and other severe issues contributing to her untimely death.
Rhabdomyolysis is a rare condition of muscle breakdown seen in individuals who’ve suffered major injuries or trauma.
Garner White shared that the only medical condition her daughter had was “asthma” and that it “doesn’t cause bleeding on the brain, bruises on the body.”
The group home released a statement regarding the medical records, saying, that they are “awaiting official medical reports, including the autopsy, before commenting on anything medically.”
Youth Villages also said that they have been transparent regarding Jones’ death, claiming that many of the “claims being made” are “false and inaccurate.”
The company maintains that no one of the staff was abusive or inappropriate while dealing with her or any other. This account is disputed by Crump, who says other teens have come forward to his office and said otherwise.
The statement also said that Youth Villages said that their lawyers have “offered to have a conversation” with Crump’s team. They are still waiting to hear a response from the civil rights attorney’s office.