Woman dies in jail; family wants answers

Brenda Lee Cochran’s family said she didn’t deserve to die the way she did: Alone in a cell at the Rappahannock regional jail. She left behind five children.

“She spent her last hours and days there. In pain. Hurting. Upset. Bewildered. Didn't know what was going on,” said her son Michael Cochran.

Monday, a week ago, Cochran and a friend went shopping at Potomac Mills Mall. Her family said she had just picked up medication for Lupus and someone stole it from her car. When police arrived, they ran a routine check and found an outstanding warrant from 2009 for her arrest on drug charges.

The family said Cochran told police they had the wrong person. Court documents show the indictment in 2009 was for Brenda Lee Cochran, a white woman who weighs about 150 pounds.

“That's not my sister - she's Mexican and well over 300 pounds,” said Cochran’s sister Vera Dankers.

Cochran never made it to court to answer the charges. Jail officials said that when Cochran arrived, she was suffering from a nose bleed and they checked her into an infirmary. By pure chance, they placed her in an infirmary cell right next to her brother, who was in jail on theft charges.

“He called me up at 11:23 and he said ‘Vera you need to get (her) out of here. They're mistreating her,” Dankers said.

The family said Cochran pleaded with jail officials to give her her Lupus medication. If they didn’t, it would be too much for her heart. Jailers allegedly didn’t provide her with the medication.

Jail officials told ABC7 that Cochran never requested any medication and was in no medical distress until a guard found her the next day unresponsive in her cell.

She was rushed to a local hospital in Stafford, where she was pronounced dead.

“They were supposed to keep her alive. Keep her ok. And they were just heartless...ruthless,” said Michael Cochran.

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