by John Tompkins, March 13, 2010, in The Facts
ANGLETON — Police are investigating the death of a Brazoria County Detention Center inmate who is believed to have hit his head during a fall in his cell.
Lisandro Torres, 52, of Alvin was taken Thursday evening to Angleton Danbury Medical Center after fellow inmates told jailers he fell in his cell and hit his head, Sheriff Charles Wagner said. He died at the hospital Friday morning.
The inmate’s death comes after relatives complained several times to the sheriff’s office and to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards about the quality of Torres’ medical care in the detention center, the commission’s executive director said.
Torres was treated at the hospital after his fall Thursday night and deputies arrived at about 5 a.m. Friday to take him back to the jail, Wagner said. Torres was in a wheelchair as a deputy pushed him to the car, he said.
“As they were coming out to the car, the deputy noticed he wasn’t breathing,” Wagner said.
Torres was taken back into the hospital and he died moments later, he said.
“He was supposed to see our doctor today,” Wagner said Friday.
No foul play is suspected, he said. No preliminary cause of death has been determined, and Torres’ body was taken to the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy.
Torres was in the county jail awaiting the outcome of a presentence investigation report by the county adult probation office, his attorney Chris Duncan said. A jury Wednesday found Torres guilty of felony driving while intoxicated, online court records show.
“The judge was going to determine whether to give him probation or prison time,” Duncan said.
He had been at the county jail since September awaiting trial.
*Family members told state officials Torres had some medical problems and he was not receiving adequate care at the Brazoria County Detention Center, said Adan Munoz, executive director for the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
“I sent two inspectors to follow up on the concerns,” Munoz said. “They were to verify he was seeing a physician.”
The inspectors’ report will not be available until next week, Munoz said.
The county approved a $2.7 million contract in June with the University of Texas Medical Branch to provide inmate care. The contract went into effect in October and includes on-site, telemedicine and inpatient services. Emergency cases, however, are taken to Angleton Danbury Medical Center.
When complaints about inmate health care are issued, the Commission on Jail Standards only has to verify the inmate is treated by a physician, Munoz said.
“We do not question what that treatment is,” he said.
Wagner said Torres had medical problems and was being treated by a doctor while he was at the jail. Wagner could not say what those conditions were.
“He was receiving medical treatment,” he said.
Duncan said he was notified of his client’s death while he was in a hearing at the Brazoria County Courthouse. Duncan spoke with Torres’ family Friday and said they were “distraught.”
“It was very upsetting,” he said. “His family was worried for a while that this might happen.”
Duncan said he is working on the family’s behalf to learn more about the circumstances of Torres’ death.