Inmate Raymond Cooper, 62, Died After Suffering Medical Emergency At Harris County Jail In Houston
HOUSTON, TEXAS (September 10, 2023) - A 62-year-old inmate identified as Raymond Cooper has tragically died after suffering a medical emergency at the Harris County Jail in Houston.
Harris County officials are saying that the incident began on Thursday. Raymond Cooper was in the medical ward of the prison when he suffered some type of medical emergency.
Jail medical staff began performing CPR and took other life-saving measures. Paramedics were called to the scene and took the inmate to the hospital.
Despite life-saving measures, Raymond Cooper was pronounced dead at the hospital. An autopsy has been scheduled in order to determine a cause of death.
A full investigation remains ongoing at this time.
Liability For Inmate Deaths At The Harris County Jail
In-custody deaths have remained alarmingly high in the United States for many decades. According to the UCLA Behind Bars Data Project, “In 2020, at least 6,182 people died in U.S. prisons. This is a 46% increase in the lives lost behind bars from 2019, despite a 10% decrease in the overall prison population.” There are a wide range of reasons that people die in custody. Deaths may result from chronic illnesses, accidents and homicides. Jail officials should take several steps to prevent inmate deaths.
- Jail officials should work in collaboration with healthcare providers to ensure inmates receive adequate medical care.
- Jails should have protocols for transferring seriously ill inmates to hospitals.
- Jails should properly document all jail deaths in their care and their causes.
- Jail staff should be trained to recognize signs that an inmate is in medical distress.
When a jail accepts custody of an inmate or detainee, certain constitutional standards will apply to the care they must receive. Claims can be filed against prisons as well as private correctional facilities when an inmate’s death is due to negligent medical care. When the care a jail provides deviates from an accepted standard of care, this could lead to injury or death. If a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. Consider, for example, Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976). There are many ways that a jail may have failed to give an inmate proper care.
- A jail may have failed to give an inmate the medication they required.
- A jail may have failed to send an inmate to a hospital in time.
- A jail may have failed to timely intervene in the event of a drug overdose.
- A jail may have failed to help an inmate if they were going through withdrawal.
It can be hard to know what to do after any in-custody death. To make matters worse, jails will rarely be transparent if any person dies in their custody. Jails will be quick to label inmate deaths as “natural” but this label is often deceptive. Many in-custody deaths are due to jail medical neglect. A lack of care and sub-optimal care both can contribute to an in-custody death. The family of any inmate that died in-custody may be able to seek some measure of accountability through a constitutional claim.
Investigating Inmate Deaths At The Harris County Jail
We at Scott H. Palmer, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of Raymond Cooper. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. There have been at least 11 deaths at the Harris County Jail in 2023 alone. This is completely unacceptable and should move state officials to investigate what is taking place.
Do you need more information about an inmate death at the Harris County Jail? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to help in any way that we can. We are committed to helping inmates and their families understand their rights. It is equally important to us that those rights are being protected. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 214-987-4100.