— Two years ago, after the first news of the case against the former University of Alabama student who was found dead in a cell in her dorm room, Kamala Harris’ parents said she had turned her life around.
But after a few months of being in a coma and undergoing a life-saving surgery, they told their daughter, they felt like she had been taken advantage of.
“I thought she was going to be a model citizen and a good person, and that she was just going to turn herself around,” said the mother of Kamala’s younger sister, Tasha Harris.
“But she never turned herself around.”
And the family said they were left to wonder whether they were being “treated as criminals” by the authorities.
In a statement, the Harris family said that they were disappointed that the case was reopened and that the family “continues to believe in the importance of a fair trial.”
The case of the missing University of Texas student who disappeared more than a year ago sparked nationwide outrage and raised questions about campus safety and campus accountability.
The family said Kamala, 22, was in the midst of a mental health evaluation at the time of her disappearance and was in critical condition when she was found.
She was later found dead on campus.
“Our son’s mental health was never in question,” the family’s statement said.
The Harris family also accused the University of a state health system of failing to do enough to help the family.
The hospital that provided Kamala with treatment said in a statement it had provided Kamalas family with information about the state’s mental-health care and mental-recovery services and the medical examiners office’s findings on the case.
But they also said it would not provide information about her case.
In an email, the health system said it has taken “extraordinary measures to improve mental health services for our students and staff and we will continue to do so.”
In an interview, the University System of Georgia said it is not able to provide information to the family and that it is “monitoring this closely.”
The family’s letter said the health-care system’s “systemwide commitment to provide mental- health care to our students is an important component of the safety of our campus community.”
“Unfortunately, the hospital did not adequately consider the impact of the treatment Kamala received,” the statement said, and “it is our hope that this information will be released to the Harris Family in the near future.”
In the statement, Harris’ parents also said they believed the university had done enough to ensure that Kamala would not have been in harm’s way if she had survived.
The university also released a statement Friday saying it is committed to ensuring safety of its students. “
Unfortunately,” the families continued, “we feel that we were treated as criminals by the university, which has failed to ensure the safety and well-being of our students.”
The university also released a statement Friday saying it is committed to ensuring safety of its students.
“The University of Georgia is committed as a private institution to providing the highest standards of care and to fostering a safe learning environment, including the implementation of safe-injection facilities, and the campus is committed in this regard to ensuring that all students are free to attend and complete the academic year safely and appropriately,” the university said in the statement.
“In addition, we are taking additional measures to address the safety concerns of our community.
We have recently begun implementing a series of safety-related changes, including installing new equipment in the school’s drug-testing area, increasing staff to enforce policies and regulations and expanding and improving the security of our student-to-student interactions, including in the classroom.”
The University System is also investigating how it obtained a warrant to search Harris’ cell phone, which the family called a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights.
“If they found evidence that she had committed any crime or was in any way responsible for the death of her sister, then they would have a right to search that cell phone,” said family attorney Tom Stiles.
“This would have been illegal if they were to search the phone.”
The Harris case has raised new questions about the safety at the University.
After the case emerged, students and parents began organizing protests in support of Kamalah and others who had gone missing in the past few years.
In February, after protests turned violent, a campus police officer was fired.
Earlier this month, students, faculty and alumni held a vigil at the campus to remember the students and others whose lives were affected by the case and to honor the memory of Kamahl Harris.
At the vigil, Harris recalled that she and other missing students were “totally isolated” from campus because of the lack of information about their cases.
She also noted