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Mother of Sgt. Brown Asks Why He Died in the Jail

Jul 26th, 2012 | Category: El Paso County, Lead Article
By Erika Castillo KFOX14 News

EL PASO, Texas — The circumstances surrounding the death of a Fort Bliss soldier at the El Paso County Jail are under investigation by the District Attorney’s Office.

Sgt. James Brown, 26, of Fort Bliss, voluntarily checked into the county jail the evening of July 13. He reported to serve two days of a driving while intoxicated sentence. His family said he was instructed by the court to check in at 8 p.m. and that he would be released on July 15.

Instead, Brown’s family said the soldier died while in jail custody July 14 after being given an injection apparently intended to sedate the man, whose family said was not a combative individual.

Brown’s mother, Dinetta Robinson Scott, drove from her home in San Antonio upon word from hospital doctors that Brown’s kidneys and liver had shut down and that he was bleeding from the mouth, ears and nose within 45 minutes of the injection. Brown died shortly after at the hospital.

Brown’s wife and mother said he lived a healthy life, and the family has retained an attorney, B.J. Crow, who says medical tests on Brown’s body at the hospital came back negative for the presence of narcotics and alcohol. Crow said that in all his years in litigation, he has never seen anything like it.

“What is so unusual is when a 26-year-old active military person checks into jail for a court-imposed sentence on a Friday and he leaves Sunday in a casket. Something went horribly wrong there,” Crow said.

Brown’s mother said her son was immediately concerned upon checking in, because of what appeared to be a paperwork problem.

“I don’t have all the details as to what happened with the paperwork,” Scott said. “All I know is he said, ‘They’re trying to make me stay seven days instead of two days, so I just want to pay the court fine and get out of here.'”

Scott said she arranged to have the money sent to the jail immediately Saturday morning, and within hours, her son was dead.

The El Paso County Jail said it does not publicly announce or advise the media of deaths in the jail unless a request for information is submitted about a particular incident. When pressed about the death of Brown, the County Jail gave no comment to KFOX14 News, but instead posted a brief statement on its government website stating:

“James Brown turned himself in for a DWI Commitment. While in custody, he required medical treatment and was transported to University Medical Center where he later died. Pursuant to state statutes and regulation, the case is under investigation by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, and under review by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. Results from the autopsy, including toxicology, are pending.”

KFOX14 is also pressing for answers from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

Meanwhile, Brown’s family said that after two combat tours in Iraq, Brown was prescribed a sleeping aid, but refused to take it and never suffered from any allergic reactions to medications before or experienced any medical conditions. The family is demanding answers about what happened, what exactly was put into his system and why.

Brown leaves behind a wife, a 2-year-old daughter, a 9-year-old stepson and his mother, who raised him alone. He had no siblings. He will be buried in Riverside California at Riverside National Cemetery on Saturday.

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10 years ago

It is amazing to me that this can happen in this day and time, but looking at the bigger issue for me is he turned himself in for a DUI, he did what was right and honorable he turned himself in to be accountable for his indescrition. When is the miliatary going to wake up and see that even though there maybe a small percentage of young men and women that will have issues with alchohol or drugs that there is a issue. I don’t know this young man or his family I am sure he was a fine upstanding young soldier but why didn’t the military step in why was he having to serve his sentence in a county or city jail why not in the Brig. The bigger question is when he was found guilty of the DUI why didn’t the military support him and place him in therapy to see what this young man needed. Now the game of who did and didn’t tdo thier job is going to take place and for this young man and his family it is to late. My prayers are with his mother and wife as well as his children. We need to start holding not only our govenment accountable but we need to hold our military branches accountable as well he was our soldier the son of our country we should all be mourning his death.

10 years ago

He would only serve time in a military jail if the incident had occurred in a military base. The military cannot be held accountable or responsible for what their members choose to do with their lives outside of the military, as usual it’s all a matter of personal responsibility. He was going to serve his time, and it’s a shame that he died, but don’t blame the military for something that is beyond their control.

7 years ago

This day and age?? Back during Vietnam most American police and sheriff departments had a policy of “D.W.O.D”. Driving While Olive Drab (army green), meaning “driving in uniform”.. If you were NOT an NCO (sgt.) or an officer, a soldier off-base expected to be pulled-over and ordered by police to field-strip themself (remove clothes down to shorts), field-strip their car (take off hub-caps, remove engine’s air cleaner, brake master cylinder cover, spare tire, and anything else one could remove without a tool).

All because the TV news claimed that; “85%” of returning Vietnam veterans were addicted to heroin”, (it was actually about 5%, the same as civilians). This BS statistic gave law enforcement the right to think that they could “field-strip” any soldiers 4th. Amendment rights when off-base (driving or not).

Once veteran soldiers became officers themselves, this abusive crap began to stop. But, now that most LEO’s come from civilian life and think they’re “Blue Bloods” heroes, we are back to police abusing anybody, anytime they want . BTW, when I became an “O-3”, of a remote missile battery, I told the local police chief that I would place his town “off-limits” if too many of my soldiers were ticketed or arrested on BS charges (perjury).
We are now back to law enforcement abusing soldiers and now they are stealing Memorial Day as well! It’s time for the military to fight back by going back to “off-limit” status of abusive jurisdictions. The people of any military town who own pizza joints and McDee’s will start calling the police chief and mayor “on the carpet”. “Blazing Skies”.

Jessica N
7 years ago

I only just encountered the story of Sergeant Brown’s death, thanks to a Democracy Now piece done in May. The video is astonishing. The guards… it’s like they’re in another universe. If they WEREN’T intending to be malicious against Sergeant Brown, then their unconscious biases against black men must have been so intense that they simply could not recognize the situation for what it was: a man in need of immediate medical care. What can the rest of America do to help his family get justice? And help prevent this ever happening to another inmate, soldier or civilian?