Ashes Of Woman Who Died In Police Custody Thrown At LAPD Chief

Two women were arrested at the Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) headquarters on Tuesday after one of them allegedly threw the ashes of her niece, Wakiesha Wilson, at LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. Wilson died while in police custody in 2016.

Video of the incident shows Sheila Hines-Brim walking up to Beck before throwing the alleged ashes at him. "That's Wakiesha!" she can be heard shouting as she walks away.

The LAPD told CBS Los Angeles that Hines-Brim was arrested for misdemeanor battery on a police officer after throwing a powder-like substance, which has not been officially identified, at Beck during a Los Angeles Police Commission meeting.

Police said the meeting was adjourned after the incident and that a hazardous materials team determined that the powder was not dangerous. They said it would undergo further testing to determine what it was.

Another woman, identified as Melina Abdullah, was also arrested for misdemeanor battery on a police officer in connection with the incident.

Hines-Brim told CBS that her niece, who was 36 when she died, had wanted her to throw her ashes at the police chief.

"I heard her clearly tell me. I used her ashes so they can be with him, so he can feel her, because he murdered her," she said. "They covered it up."

The Los Angeles City Council agreed last December to pay up to £298,000 in a settlement over Wilson's death after she was found dead in a downtown jail cell on Easter Sunday in 2016.

Authorities said Wilson hung herself in her jail cell, but her family and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles members rejected the idea that she died by suicide and demanded more information from police.

Some raised concerns that detention officers might have been responsible for Wilson's death, but police officials said there were no signs of any altercation involving officers.

Wilson's death did prompt the LAPD to review its policies and practices, however, including how jail staff handle mental health concerns related to inmates, as well as how police and coroner's officials should notify families about inmates' deaths. Wilson's mother only found out her daughter was dead after she missed a court hearing.

LAPD officers had arrested Wilson in March 2016 after she was accused of punching a patient at a downtown hospital after checking herself into the facility.

Wilson had told officers and medical staff at the jail she was held in that she had mental health issues and was taking antipsychotic and antidepressant medications, according to a previous report from the Los Angeles Times. She had denied having suicidal thoughts, however.

In a statement, Beck, who is weeks away from retirement, said Tuesday's incident was "not only disrespectful to the office of the chief of police, but more importantly to a process of community engagement that has been recognized across the nation" in a statement shared with the Times.

Beck announced in January that he will be stepping down from his post in June, ending an eight-year tenure.

"One of the secrets of bull riding is knowing when to get off the bull… And I think this is the right time to get off the bull." Beck said, announcing his plans to retire early.

Black Lives Matter Los Angeles activists had repeatedly called for him to resign in years prior, particularly over the LAPD's handling of Wilson's death.

The LAPD has not responded to a request for comment from Newsweek.