Details emerge in Pasadena jail death
Inmates say plea for help ignored, allege pattern of neglect that may violate state codes
— Houston Chronicle2
Last July, in the basement of Pasadena’s police building, Pedro Gonzales Jr. moaned in pain while locked in a jail cell. He and other inmates begged jailers to call a doctor.
” ‘We’re not gonna call an ambulance unless we see blood,’ ” former inmate Joshua David Zamora recalls one jailer saying. “The guards kept telling us, ‘He’s not sick. He’s just acting up.’ “
In a nearby cell, Patrick Beaudoin heard the ruckus grow louder as inmates yelled to the guards, “Boss man. Help this guy. He needs a doctor.”
The inmates eventually settled down after jailers pulled the 51-year-old Gonzales out of the cell he shared with Zamora, 18, and another man. After jailers returned Gonzales to the cell about an hour later, Zamora went to sleep.
Gonzales was subsequently released from jail, then rearrested about an hour later and brought back to a holding cell.
When Zamora woke, on the morning of July 21, Gonzales was gone, but the jail was once again buzzing about the scruffy little man who had seemed delirious while complaining of chest pain the night before. This time it was because Gonzales’ bruised body, in a torn shirt and filthy, blood-splattered jeans, was lying dead in the holding cell.
An autopsy revealed Gonzales’ death, ruled a homicide, was caused when one of eight fractured ribs punctured a lung, filling his chest with blood.
New details about Gonzales’ alleged treatment by Pasadena jailers surfaced after the Houston Chronicle obtained the names of former inmates through the Texas Public Information Act. In interviews, they said jailers neglected Gonzales’ repeated requests for medical attention, which challenges the Pasadena Police Department’s assertion that Gonzales had refused medical treatment.
Former inmates said their own experiences inside the jail show a pattern of neglect by jailers and inhumane conditions that experts say could violate many regulations by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, which does not inspect municipal lockups.
After a four-month investigation by Pasadena police and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, a grand jury could decide within weeks whether officers involved in Gonzales’ death committed a crime. The FBI’s Houston office will review the county and Pasadena investigations.
In light of the new details, activists are calling on the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to launch a full investigation.
2 = article may expire in a few weeks