Sunday, February 28, 2016

Jailers claim immunity for Webb County Jail beating death

Sandra Bland's death in the Waller County Jail was remarkable mainly for the massive attention it has received compared to scores of other inmates who perished in anonymity. Most deaths in county jails are glossed over almost immediately and never aggressively investigated by the press. Unless family members can afford to investigate, hire attorneys and sue, at most a one-time small announcement in veiled language is all the public will ever hear of in-jail deaths. The UK Guardian published an op ed this month by the mother of Rafael Solis about his 2009 death in the Webb County Jail for which the family has aggressively sought redress. Here's a notable excerpt:
The truth, we now know from official reports, was that Rafael was put in handcuffs and shackles, held face down against the floor of his cell, stomped on and beaten until he died.

He had two fractured ribs, diaphragm contusions, hemorrhages on his back and chest and bruises and abrasions all over his body. A subsequent report from the Texas Rangers even noted there were cross-patterns on his body that matched the laces from a jailor’s boot and a bruise on his face that matched the pattern of the drain on the floor of his cell.

The jailers claim that Rafael was experiencing alcohol withdrawal, and jailors were just trying help by putting his pants on him so he could be transported to the hospital. But broken ribs aren’t a symptom of alcohol withdrawal. And bruises all over your body, or boot prints on your chest, don’t usually result from trying to get someone get dressed.

According to the coroner, the jailors’ “help” asphyxiated Rafael, and he died.

Yet when a court recently ruled that seven jailors implicated in Rafael’s death should stand trial in a case saying their excessive force killed my son, all seven appealed. Each now claims they have immunity from prosecution because, well, they were just doing their jobs, in their official capacity, at the Webb County jail. The appeal is pending as my family and I continue to wait for justice.

We may never know for sure what “doing their jobs” included, because the jailhouse cameras were – for a reason we still have not been told – not recording on the day Rafael died.
A group called Public Justice is spearheading the litigation. See more background here and here.


Anonymous said...

The prisoner was being taught a lesson.

Anonymous said...

It is no stretch of the imagination to flat out call the jailers liars in this case. If the man had been held for three days, for them to claim he was going through "alcohol withdrawl" is so blatant a falsehood that a blind man could see it. Until the Texas legislature gets of off their self righteous rear ends and and does something to prevent things like this from happening, we are going to continue hearing about jailers who feel they are above the law committing these kinds of egregious acts and getting away with it.