Shanel case: Family will sue in search of explanation
Some people who are in the know about what happened to Shanelle Colon Ponce are speaking out.
For nearly a year now, the Senate Committee on Community Initiatives, Mental Health and Addiction has been awaiting responses from relevant parties regarding various requests for information related to the investigation into the death of a young woman who died on June 2. , 2022 at the Women’s Rehabilitation Complex in Bayamon.
Colón Ponce’s family is set to file a civil suit for damages against Puerto Rico’s government, claiming its negligence in providing psychiatric care to the young woman led to the tragedy.
“The period prescribed for presentation of the case is one year from the date of occurrence of the events. In this case, the prescriptive period begins to run from June 2, 2022, when the incident takes place in which the young Shanel allegedly took her own life , because that’s also in dispute, whether he took his life or they took it from him”, said Jose Rodriguez, who this month will present a lawsuit against the government on behalf of the Colón Ponce family.
In fact, Shanel’s relatives also question the determination of the Institute of Forensic Sciences, which ruled the death of the young woman a suicide. They point to video evidence from inmates who indicated at the time that criminal officers intimidated them into silence and that it was the detaining officers who ended the young woman’s life.
Meanwhile, a cloak of mystery envelops the Special Bureau of Investigation’s (NIE) probe into the incident, which has been classified as a “suicide” by the Institute of Forensic Sciences (ICF). Zahaira Ponce, the mother of the girl, who turned 23 on February 12, told Cuarto Poder that she had not received the full autopsy report with relevant photographs.
According to Mr. Rodríguez, “the report says he had a scar on his neck, he put the reason and he pointed the way.” However, he added that no photograph was included in the autopsy report.
“The cause is a scientific question: it is suffocation. The way the pathologists explain it, who say it is suicide there, is hanging by rope. But that has to be discussed,” he said.
According to Chanel’s mother, forensic expert Jocasta Bruegel also performed a private autopsy, but she was also not shown any photographs.
“Everything is very strange,” said Jahaira Pons, who has lived in the state of Pennsylvania for many years.
“One day he started it and quit”
Despite the fact that her birth certificate says “Shanette”, the young woman forced her family, friends and people who knew her to call her Shanelle, because as her aunt Laura Ponce explained, “That’s how she was, She wanted to flaunt her name and wanted to be called Shanelle, not Shanette.”
He was a source of joy to his entire family, until his dilemma with mental health conditions started.
“Suddenly he left without saying anything. She took psychiatric treatment, but one day she was here and the next day she was gone. It was really hard for me to deal with everything when she left. Imagine, he left the girl, and in a mental outburst he went to Puerto Rico”, Zaheera recalled on April 2, 2022, when Chanelle boarded a plane to Puerto Rico.
Upon arriving in Borinquen, this poor, mentally-affected woman begins a series of strange occurrences. On April 20, 2022, images of Shanelle would spread where the young woman was seen apparently stealing a vehicle.
“She arrived that normal day, calm, greeted and went to the room as usual, because she had already eaten,” told her aunt Laura during an interview with Cuarto Poder in her apartment in the Luis Llorens Torres residential complex. remembered.
“Then, later they sent me some messages, some videos of what happened with the vehicles and I could not believe it because no one had told me about it. He didn’t tell me about it. I asked her and she told me that she was at a place and she felt that she was being followed. And she fled with the vehicle,” he said.
That same day, their delivery was coordinated with San Juan’s Division of Stolen Vehicles. At the beginning of the investigation, police learned that the young woman was at her family’s home in the Luis Lawrence Torres residential area.
“She told me crying that it was they who were persecuting her that she didn’t want to do this and that I should forgive her. And I told her: well we have to look for help because they are looking for you , Mother, and it’s not easy at all. She told me: yes, it’s okay, Titi ”, highlighted her Aunt Laura.
“The police station was flooded looking for him, I got many calls. Since we’re in a residential area, well, as someone says, there are codes?”, he pointed out.
In view of the tension prevailing in the village due to the siege of the police in search of Shanel, the girl was handed over. At the San Juan Stolen Vehicle headquarters, Shanelle arrives with Chelian Rosario, who is like her aunt, showing officers the drugs the young woman was prescribed for her mental state.
“Fearing that there would be other things that shouldn’t have happened, because that’s how it was decided to leave … to take care of her … which wasn’t the case, because you trust other people and what They misbehaved with him, until we got the news that he was dead. It was most painful, we trusted those people, that the child would be fine there and it got worse,” said the aunt.
Curiously, the young woman turned herself in on the 20th, but as of the date of her transfer, the arrest warrant had not been processed until April 22. Shanel’s mother confirmed that during these two days the police gave her false information, as they did not tell her that there was still no arrest warrant. Worse, he indicated that he was told that he could not fill out a Law 408 form demanding that the young mother be admitted to a psychiatric hospital because there was already an arrest warrant out… only, as We indicated, said the order was final till April 22 and agreed not to sign.
“Since Shannell is of legal age, it was difficult for me to obtain her medical records from Pennsylvania. The only drugs that could be shown were those that were prescribed. If I had known there was not an arrest warrant, I would have gone to Puerto Rico and called 408 But the same police told me that I could not, because there was already an arrest warrant. They lied to me or gave me wrong information,” said the girl’s mother, Zahaira Pons.
In January 2022, Shannell’s family sought help from authorities in York, Pennsylvania to address the young woman’s mental distress. According to what her mother told us, Shanelle had a chronic episode of psychosis and her own doctor recommended that she be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility by order of a judge. In other words, the family was already aware of such legal recourse, but could not implement it because of misinformation provided by the police.
Diagnosed when she was involuntarily committed to Pennsylvania, Shannell suffered from psychosis, a mental disorder that causes her to be involuntarily aggressive and causes her to be socially erratic and even illegal. Can engage in behavior. He was prescribed the antidepressant drug sertraline, known commercially as Zoloft.
In the York Court document, it also indicated that there was a “reasonable likelihood that this conduct will be repeated during the next 30 days, unless appropriate remedial measures are provided.”
Medical reports from the time in Pennsylvania established that, even with her mental conditions, Schnell was not viewed as a potential suicide victim. Her family claims that it was during times of high stress that Schnell displayed the erratic behavior of her illness.
editor’s Note: First part of three. Nearly a year after the death of Shanelle Colón Ponce, Quarto Poder is investigating what happened in the case, which is being investigated by both a Senate commission and the Bureau of Special Investigations (NIE).