Inmate Emmanuel Mora Died From Suspected Overdose and Taser Use At Bexar County Jail
BEXAR COUNTY, TEXAS (August 29, 2023) - A man identified as Emmanuel Mora died after being tasered by correctional officers while being booked into the Bexar County Jail.
Bexar County officials are saying that the incident began on Sunday, August 27. Emmanuel Mora was first arrested by Balcones Heights officers.
He had an outstanding narcotics warrant checked before being patted down. Officers said that he became agitated as he was being booked into the Bexar County Jail.
Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) deputies were called to the scene and deployed a taser. Deputies said that he calmed down after being tasered but became agitated once more.
Emmanuel Mora became unresponsive after he was pinned to the ground and handcuffed. In response to the medical emergency, medical staff gave him Narcan and performed CPR.
Narcan is commonly used to help people who are going through an opioid overdose. Despite life-saving measures, the inmate was later pronounced dead.
A full investigation into the incident remains ongoing at this time.
Liability For Bexar County Jail Inmate Deaths
Drug overdoses are one of the leading causes of death in and outside of the prison system. According to PBS, “The alcohol and drug overdose death rate increased fivefold in prisons from 2009 through 2019, according to a recent study from the Pew Charitable Trusts — a surge that outpaced the national drug overdose rate, which tripled in the same period.” Part of the problem is that jails are not doing enough to keep dangerous opioids like fantanyl out of the hands of inmates. There are many steps that jails should take to prevent overdose deaths.
- Correctional officers should be trained to understand when an inmate may be going through a drug overdose.
- Correctional officers should have access to plenty of Naloxone, which can be used to reverse the effects of an overdose.
- Inmates should get a medical screening while they are being admitted into the jail.
- Jail staff should listen and follow the instructions of the medical staff that treat inmates.
The vast majority of overdose deaths in the prison system are preventable. They tend to occur when inmates are not getting proper healthcare. The Supreme Court of the United States has held that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment requires the government to provide healthcare to prisoners. When a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. For example, a jail may have failed to timely intervene when an inmate was in the midst of a drug overdose.
Similarly, a jail could also be liable for the death of an inmate due to the excessive force of officers. Tasers are often presented as being a “non-lethal” alternative to firearms. But the truth is that tasers can be very dangerous and have often lead to the death of suspects. In particular, tasers can cause a life-threatening arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation. According to ABC 11, an estimated 500 people have died from the use of police tasers nationwide from 2010 - 2021.
Whether or not the use of a taser can be understood as “excessive force” will depend on the unique facts of any particular situation. In general, excessive force refers to force that goes beyond what a law enforcement agent believes is reasonably necessary. Pursuant to 42 U.S. Code § 1983, every person who, under the color of any statute, ordinance or regulation, causes a citizen to be deprived of their rights afforded under the constitution, shall be liable to the injured party in an action at law. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any in-custody death.
- Medical records should be preserved.
- An independent autopsy may need to be performed.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- An experienced civil rights attorney should be contacted.
It can be hard to know where to begin after any in-custody death. To make matters worse, jails and police departments will often do everything that they can to deny responsibility after someone dies in their care. They will either blame the victim or say that their actions were consistent with department policy. But in many situations, this will not be the case. The family of any person that died in a Bexar County Jail may have legal recourse through a civil claim.
Investigating Inmate Deaths At The Bexar County Jail
We at Scott H. Palmer, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of Emmanuel Mora. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. There needs to be some accountability for what took place. All inmates have constitutional rights that must be protected.
Do you need more information about an in-custody death at the Bexar County Jail? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to answer any questions that you may have. We care deeply that inmates and their families are aware of their rights and that jails are held accountable for their actions. 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.