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Why Was Our Father Killed in the Harris County Jail?

Jun 17th, 2011 | Category: Harris County
by Kenneth Ware,  Houston Chronicle
     Relatives of a 72-year-old mentally ill man spent Father’s Day protesting outside the Harris County Jail, where he died five months ago.

Community activist Quanell X and two dozen other people marched, chanted and displayed photos of Norman Hicks Sr., who died in January of fatal injuries received inside the jail at 1200 Baker.

“There are things going on inside of this jail that they don’t want the public to know,” said Quanell X.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has provided little information about the Jan. 16 altercation that led to the death. Hicks, who was on probation, arrived in good physical health at the Harris County Jail on Jan. 7 after being arrested in Oklahoma City for violation of his probation related to a charge of aggravated assault on a relative, according to Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Christina Garza.

“We take any loss of life seriously, whether it’s that of an inmate, an employee or any other person,” said a statement the Harris County Sheriff’s Office released in March when Hicks’ death was ruled a homicide.

“It’s important to note that a homicide doesn’t necessarily constitute a criminal act. Take an action made in self-defense as an example. All murders are homicides, but not all homicides are murders,” the statement said.

Hicks, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, died from complications of a heart attack after he suffered blunt head trauma and a broken nose, according to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences‘ autopsy report.


Quanell X said sources inside the jail told him a male deputy escorted Hicks to an attorney’s booth, even though no attorney was present to visit with Hicks.

An altercation occurred there, and sources inside the jail told Quanell X that Hicks remained in the attorney’s booth for 30 minutes without medical attention, while the deputy went to look for peroxide to clean blood off his uniform shirt.

“A very young deputy who was not with the department for two years caused the injuries to Hicks,” said Quanell X.

The family wants to see videotape of incident that led to Hicks’ head injuries. Norman Hicks Jr., 46, also wants a murder indictment and justice for his father.

“The Sheriff’s Department is supposed to protect and serve, not to destroy and kill,” Hicks said. “My father was 72-years-old, 160 pounds, and he was not a threat and had no weapons.”

The case remains under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office. Officials refuse to provide details until the investigation is complete, frustrating those awaiting answers.

“We want the Sheriff’s Department to get off their rear ends and give this family and the citizens answers,” Quanell X said.


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