Woman died of fentanyl overdose at Cook County Jail: autopsy

(Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

A woman who died earlier this month while being held on a drug possession charge at the Cook County Jail suffered a fentanyl overdose, officials have found.

Lavera Scott, 51, was pronounced dead at 5:28 a.m. March 2 at the jail, 2700 S. California Ave., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

An autopsy at the time did not rule on the cause and manner of her death pending further testing, but the medical examiner’s office said Thursday that Scott died of fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl toxicity. Her death was ruled accidental.

In a statement, the Cook County sheriff’s office suggested the drugs could have been smuggled into the jail because the office stopped conducting strip searches.

“Years ago, Sheriff Dart stopped the practice of strip searching detainees, and instead we conduct thorough searches of all detainees remanded to our custody,” Cook County sheriff’s office’s Chief Policy Officer Cara Smith said in the statement.

“Fentanyl is a horrific drug and can be deadly with the equivalent of a little few grains of salt, making its detection challenging,” Smith said. “We will continue all efforts to detect and prevent contraband from entering the jail.”

Cook County sheriff’s office spokeswoman Sophia Ansari said at the time that the circumstances of Scott’s death did not appear suspicious.

Scott was charged in September with possession of a controlled substance and was released on a personal recognizance bond, according to court records. She failed to appear at a court hearing in November and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

She was taken into custody on the warrant in February and ordered held without bail, according to court records. She pleaded not guilty to the charge on Feb. 19.

Chicago police said she lived in the West Pullman neighborhood.