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Suicide: Family Blames Nueces County Jail

Sep 10th, 2012 | Category: Nueces County

Posted: Sep 6, 2012 7:04 PM by Andrew Ellison – aellison@kristv.com  KRIS TV

CORPUS CHRISTI – One man’s suicide in Nueces County Jail two years ago has lead to a lawsuit. The family of Samuel Salazar says officials did not pay close enough attention to his mental health while he was in jail and could have done more to prevent his death.

The lawsuit says that Salazar expressed his intentions from the very beginning when he was arrested two years ago after police say he raped his own mother.

“I want to kill myself with the scissors. I want to kill myself and I will kill myself,” Salazar said.

The lawsuit goes on to detail how Salazar was put on and off suicide watch several times, despite his clear intentions to harm himself. It says he was taken off suicide watch just a few days into his jail term. The next day, he tried to hang himself with a bed sheet, prompting officials to put him back on watch. A few weeks later, he was taken off watch again, and this time his attempt succeeded.

Guards found Salazar with a mattress cover tied around his neck, the other end tied to his bunk.

We asked Nueces County Sheriff Jim Kaelin about the case, asking him if he could explain how inmates are taken on or off suicide watch.

“I don’t put them on suicide watch, nor do I take them off suicide watch. That is a medical determination made by medical professionals here at the jail,” Kaelin says.

So we tried to contact Dr. Gilbert Maldonado, a psychiatrist that Salazar’s family says didn’t evaluate him properly. We were unable to reach him.

In the end, Salazar’s family makes their main complaint very clear.

“The defendants completely ignored the serious medical and mental health needs of Mr. Salazar during his detention at the Nueces County Jail,” the lawsuit reads.

A strong statement from a family who thinks his death could have been prevented.




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