Brazoria County sued over jail inmate's death

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Mar 27, 2012

GALVESTON � Brazoria County and its sheriff Charles Wagner are the targets of a federal lawsuit arising from the death of a jail inmate.

GALVESTON – Brazoria County and its sheriff Charles Wagner are the targets of a federal lawsuit arising from the death of a jail inmate.

In court papers submitted March 12 in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas, Shelley McPeak-Torres alleges the defendants provided her late husband, Lisandro Torres, inadequate health care while he was detained at the Brazoria County Detention Center.

The couple's son, Alexander, is also a plaintiff in the case.

The six-page original petition shows Torres suffered from a number of physical ailments including diabetes and high blood pressure prior to his arrest for driving while intoxicated on Sept. 19, 2009. The suit states he required daily injections and daily doses of medication.

Torres claims he informed the defendants of his medical issues upon his detention, but the jail "wholly ignored and failed to provide (him) with necessary medical care," the suit says.

McPeak-Torres claims the decedent suffered a severe stroke because he was not given his medication or any sort of care.

He was transported to the Methodist Hospital in Houston where he was confined for several days.

After his discharge, Torres returned to the BCDC.

The suit further explains the stroke left him unable to walk, talk, chew or swallow.

Despite his and McPeak-Torres's repeated requests, no proper medical treatment was given, the suit alleges.

According to the complaint, the BCDC jailers and staff mocked Torres and accused him of "faking" his medical condition and physical limitations despite the continuous deterioration of his health.

Torres ultimately was unable to rise from his bed or use the bathroom, so his cellmates got him a small container to use as a bedpan, which drew anger from one of the guards, the suit says.

It states the unnamed jailer entered the cell and emptied the full contents of the improvised bedpan on Torres as he lay in his bed.

The jailer allegedly told the sick inmate that "he can get off his (expletive) and stop faking, or he can lay there in his own waste and stench."

Torres died on March 12, 2010.

Brazoria County and Wagner are faulted for allowing BCDC personnel to make decisions and commit acts which harmed the decedent and violated his civil and constitutional rights as well as failing to supervise and honor the late prisoner and his spouse's requests.

Consequently, Torres's survivors seek unspecified monetary damages.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt is presiding over the case.

Case No. 3:12-cv-75

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