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Woman Who Could Have Been Released for $30 Dies After Spending 150 Days in Custody

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Janice Dotson-Stephens, a 61-year old Black woman, died while in custody five months after being arrested for misdemeanor charges, in which she could have been released on bond for only $30. Her family, who didn’t know that she had been in jail until she died, is suing the authorities involved, claiming that Dotson-Stephens could not have been jailed in the first place because she is mentally ill.

Dotson-Stephens was arrested on a criminal trespass charge after consistently telling the police that she wouldn’t leave the Mt. Zion elder community at San Antonio on July 17. According to a police report, she told the officers that the only place she would go is the jail. The officers did so and booked her into the Bexar County Jail.

Her bail was set to $300, and because most bail bond companies would only require at least 10 percent payment to be bailed out, she could have been released for just $30. But she died five months after her arrest. The medical examiner’s office stated that she died of natural causes.

“The question is, ‘What did you do to treat her?” said Les Sachanowicz, the attorney representing the family. “Did you give her the standard of health care that the community would have?”

Dotson-Stephens’ family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Bexar County, Bexar County Pre-trial Services, and the University Health System.

“We’re convinced that their mom was ignored to death, and what I mean by that is there is a culture of deliberate indifference for her and other inmates in the pre-trial system and at the Bexar County Jail,” Sachanowicz said.

Brigette Lott, Dotson-Stephens daughter, said her mother suffered from a long history of mental illness including severe mood disorder and schizophrenia. She argued that her mother could have been brought to a mental health institution rather than the jail after the arrest.

“It was absolutely normal that my mom would just leave and we might not hear from her for a long time,” Lott told San Antonio Express-News. “That was normal for us. We were under the assumption that it was a regular cycle. She’ll get in trouble, then she’ll get better, then we’ll start the cycle all over again.”

Meanwhile, Bexar County officials claim that they weren’t informed of the mental health issues of Dotson-Stephens and said she was given proper care during her imprisonment.

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The Promised Land is Yours

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Do you live, work, visit, worship, play, or just pass through the 78220 area?  Better yet, maybe you are looking to add a new favorite menu to your curbside/carryout food repertoire. Well there’s a new chef in town serving up a variety of delicious flavors located in the heart of the Eastside of San Antonio.

Located at 3363 E. Commerce, Ste. 102, the Promised Land International Flavors kitchen is now open and serving a multitude of flavors from around the world.  The idea behind the new location is to provide a missing variety of foods that offer nutritional value and address various health needs in the community while still providing a flare of flavors. The kitchen is open Monday – Friday with breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and lunch from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.  On any given day you can find Italian, Asian, Latin, Southern Soul, American dishes and more.  According to some of the neighboring residents and customers in the building, the Mexican Enchilada plate and the Italian Pasta with shrimp are some of their absolute favorites. 

Executive Chef Fred Johnson brings his 40 plus years of experience to his new venture Promised Land International Flavors.  Chef Fred grew up in a military family and then later served in the Navy himself.  His passion for culinary arts began when he was just 14 years old.  Realizing he was blessed with the gift of culinary skills, Chef Fred pursued his passion.  His blessing has afforded him the opportunity to teach Airforce and Navy Basic Culinary classes, he’s managed a Zio’s Italian Kitchen, he once cooked at a dinner that included the late President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan, and prior to his recent end of June 2020 retirement, Chef Fred cooked seven days a week on the U.S.S. Frank Cable AS-40 ship for 1,200 servicemen when the pandemic hit. So, this well traveled Plainview, Texas native is no new kid off the block, he’s got game! 

Promised Land International Flavors had a soft opening July 5, 2020 for the residents and building tenants and currently is now open and serving the public. Promised Land International Flavors is also available for small catering events.  For more information visit http://promisedlandif.com/, https://www.facebook.com/PromisedLandif/, call (210) 238-2625, or just stop by and place your order to go.

by LaNell Taylor

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Avista Products/Black Video News Makes the News

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Spectrum News San Antonio featured Avista Products/ Black Video News in a segment about the Digital Divide.

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Youngest Person in Florida to Die From COVID-19

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9-Year Old Black Girl Becomes Youngest Person in Florida to Die From COVID-19

Putnam County, FL — Kimora “Kimmie” Lynum, a 9-year old African American girl, has been reported as the youngest person in Florida to have died from COVID-19 so far.

Lynum was taken to the hospital when she started feeling sick and had a high fever. She tested positive for coronavirus but was sent home. She collapsed and sadly died shortly after.

It has yet been confirmed how or when Lynum got infected. Her family said she did not have any underlying health conditions and she did not travel recently. She spent her days at home and did not attend school or summer camp.

Lynum had no close contact with anyone who tested positive of the COVID-19 as well, official state health department records show.

GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help with Lynum’s funeral expenses and it has so far raised more than $15,000.

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