Inmate David Gardner Died From Potential Drug Overdose While Staying At The Harris County Jail
HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS (August 30, 2023) - A 25-year-old inmate identified as David Gardner has tragically died after being found unresponsive in his cell at the Harris County Jail.
Harris County Jail officials are saying that the incident began around 10:36 a.m. Wednesday. A detention officer was delivering lunch when he noticed that David Gardner was unconscious.
Medical staff entered the jail cell and began life-saving measures. The inmate was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital for further treatment.
Despite life-saving measures, David Gardner was pronounced dead at the hospital. Authorities said that they believe his death may be tied to an overdose.
Jail staff said that they recovered evidence from the single-person cell that would indicate the presence of narcotics. A full investigation into the incident remains ongoing at this time.
This marks the 11th in-custody death at the Harris County Jail for 2023.
Liability For Harris County Jail Inmate Deaths
Drug overdoses remain one of the leading causes of in-custody death. According to National Public Radio, “From 2001 to 2018, the number of people who have died of drug or alcohol intoxication in state prisons rose more than 600%, according to an analysis of newly-released data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. In county jails, overdose deaths increased by more than 200%.” Fentanyl has been particularly destructive. It is a synthetic opioid that is around 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. There are a number of signs that could indicate an inmate is going through a drug overdose.
- Chest pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of balance
- Being unresponsive
The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects inmates from cruel and unusual punishment. Depriving inmates of adequate healthcare is a violation of their constitutional rights. Even if an inmate voluntarily took some substance which caused an overdose, they must still receive care to help them survive. When a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim.
Overdose deaths in custody are often highly preventable. To begin with, correctional officers should be doing everything within their power to prevent illicit drugs from entering into the prison system. In accordance with state laws, naloxone kits should be readily available to all people who work in a jail facility. Correctional officers should be well trained to spot the signs of a potential opioid overdose. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any suspected overdose death in-custody.
- The substance involved in the death should be determined.
- Surveillance footage should be sought.
- An independent autopsy may need to be performed.
- An experienced civil rights attorney should be contacted.
It can be difficult to know what to do after your loved one dies in jail. To make matters worse, jails are rarely transparent about what happened. Indeed, they will often list many in-custody deaths as “natural,” even though many of the people who die in-custody are in their 20’s or 30’s. 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 the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating Inmate Deaths At The Harris County Jail
We at Scott H. Palmer, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of David Gardner. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. It is our sincere hope that measures are taken to prevent other tragedies like this. Far too many people have died in custody at the Harris County Jail. State officials need to take action to make sure that this jail is protecting inmate’s constitutional rights.
Do you need more information about a Harris County Jail inmate death? Our team of civil rights attorneys may be able to assist you. We are committed to helping people who have been the victims of police abuse and jail neglect. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any incident we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 214-987-4100.