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Second death this week reported at Louisville jail

Louisville Metro Department of Corrections
Roberto Roldan
Louisville Metro Department of Corrections

A 34-year-old Black woman died in custody of the Louisville jail early Friday morning, the second death reported there this week.

Louisville Metro Police Department referred reporters to Louisville Department of Corrections spokesperson Steve Durham, who said he is still collecting information about the death and would be reviewing video footage today that he hoped would provide more details. 

The Jefferson County Coroner identified the woman as Rickitta Smith, a Park Hill resident, and noted she died shortly before 6 a.m. at the University of Louisville Hospital. The coroner is still waiting for a final autopsy report before determining the official cause of death. Durham said the woman was arrested and booked into the jail Wednesday. 

Daniel Johnson, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 77 representing Louisville correctional officers, said she suffered what appeared to be a seizure around 5 a.m. Friday morning. Johnson said CPR was performed and Narcan was administered in case the person was suffering an overdose, but was ineffective.

Another person incarcerated at the jail died in custody Monday night. Durham said jail staff found a 59-year-old person unresponsive in one of the housing units. The individual was declared dead at the University of Louisville Hospital. On Friday, Durham said that death is still under investigation and he had no new details to share.

Union staff have said conditions at the jail have been deteriorating. According to weekly population data from the Kentucky Department of Corrections, the jail currently holds 1,477 people out of 1,791 available beds.

This story has been updated to add victim identification information.

Jared Bennett is an investigative reporter and deputy editor for LPM. Email Jared at jbennett@lpm.org.
Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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