In July 2012, a 26-year-old African American Army combat veteran stationed at Fort Bliss turned himself in for a two-day sentence for DWI. His name was Sgt. James Brown. He walked into the El Paso County Jail of his own volition, and was carried out, unconscious.
At the time of Brown’s death, the jail gave a statement that read, “James Brown turned himself in for a DWI Commitment. While in custody, he required medical treatment and was transported to University Medical Center where he later died. Pursuant to state statutes and regulation, the case is under investigation by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, and under review by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. Results from the autopsy, including toxicology, are pending.”
This week, KFOX in El Paso obtained video of twenty of the final minutes of Brown’s life. They’re graphic and difficult to watch—please be cautioned before clicking the link—but they reveal some of the spin involved in the statement from the jail. Namely, that while the broad strokes are true—Brown did require medical treatment while in custody, and he was transported to the University Medical Center, where he was declared dead—the way those facts obfuscate the details is shocking.