Inmate Oscar Villazana, 49, Died In Custody After Medical Emergency At Harris County Jail
HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS (October 29, 2023) - An inmate identified as Oscar Villazana has tragically died after suffering some type of medical emergency at a Harris County Jail.
Harris County officials are saying that the incident took place on Thursday, July 13. Correctional officers noticed that Oscar Villazana was going through some type of medical emergency.
He was taken to Memorial Hermann in order to receive treatment. Despite life-saving measures, he died at the hospital. Jail staff are saying that Oscar Villazana had a pre-existing medical condition prior to being hospitalized.
A full investigation into the death remains ongoing at this time.
Liability For Harris County Inmate Deaths
Far too many people have died across Harris County jails each year. According to Fox 26 Houston, “A total of 27 inmates died while in Harris County custody in 2022, and 10 more deaths have been reported so far in 2023. Family members of inmates who have died while in custody spoke minutes before county jail officials, pleading for change at the detention center.” Inmates across Harris County have alleged numerous forms of mistreatment.
- Overcrowding: Inmates across Texas have faced issues with prison overcrowding. Overcrowding can lead to substandard living conditions.
- Heat: Texas is just one of 13 states that does not require air conditioning. Numerous people die in Texas prisons every year from conditions closely tied to heat exhaustion.
- Physical Abuse: Prisoners are often the victims of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of prison guards.
- Violence: Homicide remains one of the leading causes of inmate death in Harris County and across Texas.
All jails have a legal obligation to provide inmates with adequate healthcare. When a jail is aware that an inmate has a serious medical condition, this must move them to action. They may be informed of this by a doctor. Or prison officials may have become aware of the condition through their own observation. If a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. It is crucial that evidence is properly preserved after any in-custody death.
- An independent autopsy may need to be performed.
- Surveillance footage should be sought.
- The circumstances leading up to the death should be understood.
Jails are often quick to label inmate deaths as natural. Sadly, though, this label can often be highly misleading. Many inmate deaths are due to inmates not getting proper medical care. The family of any person that died in custody may be able to seek some measure of justice through a civil claim. A civil rights attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating Harris County Inmate Deaths
We at Scott H. Palmer, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of Oscar Villazana. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to police. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what happened. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent similar tragedies.
Do you need more information about a Harris County inmate death? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to help you. We are committed to helping people who have been wronged by law enforcement. Jails have constitutional standards that they must live up to. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of help we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 214-987-4100.