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Warning: Video contains graphic images that may be disturbing to some viewers.
EL PASO, Texas – An active-duty Fort Bliss solider self-reported for a two day DWI sentence at the El Paso County Jail in 2012.
However, he died before ever being released to his family.
Sgt. James Brown served two tours of combat duty in Iraq and was a decorated soldier.
In July of 2012, Brown was on active duty at Fort Bliss when he left his family for the weekend to report for a two-day DWI sentence at the county jail.
When he checked in, jail records show that Brown reported that he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
At that point, Brown contacted his mother.
“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,” Dinette Robinson-Scott told KFOX.
Brown asked his mother to send money to pay the fine, which she did by the following morning.
By then, it was too late.
KFOX was able to obtain video taken inside the jail moments before Brown’s sudden death.
At some point, Brown appeared to have an episode in his cell that caused him to bleed.
When he refused to answer a guard, a team of guards in riot gear stormed his cell.
From the beginning of the recording, Brown can be heard saying that he could not breathe.
By the end of the clip, Brown’s physical condition appears to deteriorate.
He exhibits signs of shallow breathing and is no longer able to blink or respond.
Attorneys say at no time was an ambulance or 911 called for help.
Eventually, Brown was placed on a gurney and wheeled out of the jail and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“I pray that new laws protecting soldiers in custody will be implemented, that the military adopt new policy procedures in regards to their soldiers being held in custody by an outside agency. If these changes can be made and our soldiers are protected, and another family never has to experience what my family has, then my son’s death would not have been in vain,” Robinson-Scott said in a statement to KFOX.
Brown’s family attorney says the video shows a violation of Brown’s constitutional rights.
“When a 26-year-old man checks into jail for a court imposed sentence on a Friday, and he leaves Sunday in a casket, something went horribly wrong there,” said B.J. Crow.
Brown had no criminal record and toxicology reports show he had no illegal drugs in his system.
The autopsy results cited sickle-cell crisis as the cause of death.
“Mr. Brown’s death was an unfortunate tragedy. The sheriff’s office has conducted a thorough review of the facts surrounding Mr. Brown’s death and, based upon all the evidence obtained, determined that his death was caused by a pre-existing medical condition. The specific evidence cannot be discussed because of pending litigation,” said Sheriff Richard Wiles, with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, in a statement.
Medical studies say sickle-cell crisis can lie dormant until it is triggered by dehydration and stress.
Brown’s attorney says he apparently suffered more stress in jail than coming under fire in combat twice, which Brown did.
His family says Brown never showed any history of having a sickle-cell crisis, and is convinced the medical episode was triggered by his treatment in the jail.
“He was bleeding out the ears, the nose, the mouth, his kidney’s shut down, his blood pressure dropped to a very dangerous level, and his liver shut down,” said Crow.
His family is suing for damages, claiming the jail used excessive force and did not receive proper medical attention.
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