A 53-year-old Native American man was found dead in a Mississippi jail cell earlier this month.
Authorities at the Neshoba County Jail reported seeing Rexdale Henry alive at 9:30am, but he was dead just after 10am, according to local ABC affiliate WTOK.
Henry was reportedly found with two broken ribs, his friends and family said in a statement sent to Fusion.
There aren’t many more details surrounding Henry’s death; the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case. But the few details that are public are eerily similar to the case surrounding Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old black woman found dead in a Texas jail cell after she was arrested for a traffic violation.
Henry was a Choctaw activist who was considered a medicine man in his community of Bogue Chitto. He was reportedly arrested for failure to pay an old fine.
Henry was found dead on the 14th. Bland was found dead on July 13th.
“At a time when the nation is focused on the terrible circumstances of the brutal death of Sandra Bland, it is critical to expose the many ways in which Black Americans, Native Americans and other minorities are being arrested for minor charges and end up dead in jail cells,” Syracuse University law professor Janis McDonald said in a statement sent to Fusion.
“His family wants to know what or who caused their healthy 53-year-old loved one to die in that cell,” McDonald said.
Police kill Native Americans at a higher rate than any other ethnic group in the country, according to a Centers for Disease Control analysis by Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, a criminal justice reform research group based in San Francisco.
Native Americans (0.8% of the population) comprise 1.9% of police killings, the report found. African Americans (13% of the population) are victims in 26 percent of police shootings.
Henry is the second person in the last year to die in the Neshoba County jail, according to the local news station WTOK.
The Neshoba County Sheriff is currently facing a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit as result of a November 2014 inmate death at the jail.
Michael D. McDougle Sr., 29, was found dead in an isolated holding cell in the jail in November 2014. The autopsy found a mix of drugs in McDougle’s system and a head injury, according to the Clarion Ledger.
But the lawsuit filed by McDougle’s family charges that McDougle “was brutally beaten” by Philadelphia Police Department officers and then taken to the Neshoba County jail. Once in jail the lawsuit claims McDougle was “beaten and tasered” while he was in handcuffs.
The Neshoba County Sheriff and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety did not respond to requests for comment.
Henry’s friends and family say they are transporting his body to Florida for an independent autopsy.
“How were his ribs broken? How did he die?” asked McDonald, the Syracuse University law professor.