Inmate Bennie Wheeler Died After Medical Emergency While Staying At Texas Department of Criminal Justice Jail In Galveston
GALVESTON COUNTY, TEXAS (January 19, 2024) - An inmate identified as Bennie Wheeler has tragically died while he was staying at a Texas Department of Criminal Justice Jail in Galveston.
TDCJ officials are saying that the incident began around January 13. Bennie Wheeler was admitted to Hospital Galveston due to a medical condition.
He remained at the hospital for four days and his condition continued to decline. Sadly, Bennie Wheeler was pronounced deceased on January 17.
His medical cause of death was listed as cardiopulmonary arrest. A full investigation remains ongoing at this time.
Liability For TDCJ Inmate Deaths
Thousands of inmates die in custody every year in the United States. Drug overdoses remain a major cause of inmate death. According to the Vera Institute, “Just as punitive responses to drug use have driven incarceration, substantial evidence suggests that incarceration is associated with increased risk for overdose death. Research has confirmed that overdose is the leading cause of death among people recently released from prisons, as well as the third leading cause of deaths in custody in U.S. jails.” Jails should take a number of measures in order to prevent inmate deaths.
- Jails should ensure that all inmates have a health screening.
- Jails should perform routine wellness checks on all of the inmates in their care.
- Jail staff should be trained to recognize when an inmate is in medical distress.
Depending on the facts of any case, a jail or private healthcare provider could be liable for the death of an inmate in their care. Inmates that suffer from healthcare neglect or medical malpractice may be able to bring a civil claim against the jail in a Section 1983 lawsuit. It is important that all evidence related to any in-custody death is properly preserved.
- Medical records related to the death should be sought.
- Surveillance footage should be examined.
- An independent autopsy may need to be performed.
- The actions of jail officials leading up to the death should be understood.
Jails are supposed to be places of rehabilitation. But far too often, they are places where inmates go to be abused or neglected. This is particularly true when inmates request medical aid. In far too many situations, inmates are denied care and jail officials will only bother to intervene if an inmate is in medical distress. The family of any person that died in a county jail may have legal recourse through a civil claim.
Investigating TDCJ Inmate Deaths
We at Scott H. Palmer, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of Bennie Wheeler. There needs to be a thorough investigation for the sake of the victim’s family. The sheer number of deaths across Texas remains deeply concerning.
Do you need more information about a Texas inmate death? Our team of civil rights attorneys are here to help in any way that we can. We care deeply that inmates are aware of their rights and that jails are held to account for their illegal actions. 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.