It took a grotesque discovery – rigor mortis – to finally prove to Texas prison medical personnel that young inmate Charles Billops Jr. wasn't faking illness.
A prison guard picked up the ailing teenager's arm, and it remained frozen – in midair. The 17-year-old had died as he was being shuttled from cell to infirmary to psych unit, and his body had become rigid.
Yikes! The kid had to die to prove he wasn't faking it! I thought $250,000 sounded low when the settlement was first announced. I wonder how much a jury would have awarded the family after hearing that story?!
TDCJ officials have said Billops' condition was rare, but I don't see it: he had the sniffles, which turned into a sinus infection. He never saw a doctor and it turned into a more severe sinus infection, which ultimately turned into a brain abcess. I'm no doctor but that sounds like a pretty natural progression to me.
Poor kid - he was only 17 when he died, four months into a 2-year stint in a youthful offender program in Brazoria. I can't say it any better than the guard writing at The Back Gate: "No inmate in Texas prisons should have to pay such a terrible price as a result of falling ill behind bars." No, they shouldn't - but that's the price Charles Billops paid, nonetheless.