Doctor testifies in case of accused officers

May 29, 2008 4:07:57 PM PDT
The assistant Harris County Medical Examiner spent the day on the stand in the trial of two Pasadena police officers accused of killing a jail inmate. The officers say that inmate was resisting arrest.The state has rested in the case of officers Jason Buckaloo and Christopher Jones, accused of fatally beating Pedro Gonzales, 51, last year. The officers are accused of using knee and elbow strikes to restrain Gonzales, ultimately contributing to his death.

For most of the day, Dr. Merrill Hines explained what he found when doing the autopsy on Gonzales.

He testified, "On the left lung I noted a small, approximately 1/8 inch tear in the lining surrounding the lung itself."

Dr. Hines said there were multiple fractures on eight of Gonzales' ribs.

"The rib fractures and associated lung injury would impair Mr. Gonzales' ability to breathe," he testified.

"(Dr. Hines) testified that his conclusion was that those injuries caused (Gonzales') death," said Assistant District Attorney Joe Owmby.

Though attorney Greg Cagel says eight fractured ribs doesn't necessarily mean excessive force, especially in the Gonzales case.

"The testimony has shown that he had, I think 10 healed rib fractures from previously," said Cagel, attorney for Buckaloo. "If you're someone who's susceptible to that type injury, and you choose to get into a fight with the police, then that might be the consequence."

Under cross-examination, Hines said Gonzales was in poor health, and listed alcoholism as a contributing factor to his death. He also said that caused Gonzales to have brittle bones.

Officers have said they thought Gonzales was drunk when they picked him up an hour after being released from jail on a previous public intoxication arrest. Hines said alcohol withdrawal could make Gonzales appear drunk, even if he wasn't.

Defense attorneys tell Eyewitness News they're not yet sure if the accused officers will testify. If convicted, they could face up to two years in jail.

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