Widow reads report on husband's death

July 11, 2008 2:03:58 PM PDT
A small protest outside the Harris County Sheriff's Office spoke loudly.Activists say the grand jury's failure to indict Pasadena homeowner Joe Horn for fatally shooting two suspected burglars and offensive sheriff dept emails 13 Undercover exposed are not acceptable.

Clarence Freeman's widow was among the protestors. Freeman was an inmate at the Harris County Jail who died nine days after an altercation with a detention officer. The officer used a choke hold on Freeman. Seven months later, the Harris County Sheriff's Office still hasn't figured out if the deputy broke the law or even department rules.

Cherry Bradley is finally just now for the first time reading his last words.

"The officer choked me until I almost went unconscious," she read to us.

Written in his own handwriting minutes after an altercation with a detention officer and minutes before he was taken to LBJ Hospital, Freeman described the effects of a 45 second choke hold.

"'I had a bowel movement, my God, and urinated on myself'," she continued to read. "How could you use bodily force to choke someone until they have a bowel movement and urinate on themselves? That's cruel."

It is a question without an answer from the sheriff's office. The altercation started on New Year's Day when Freeman asked for an extra food tray. When he was denied, Freeman was taken to another cell to file a grievance. And during that walk a detention officer said Freeman hit him.

According to the deputy's own statement, he "secured my left arm under his neck until his aggression and fighting was no longer a threat".

It took 45 seconds writes the deputy. Another detention officer took freeman to the jail medical clinic. On the way he says, "Freeman kept praying and saying, "God, I am going to make it through this. AllIi wanted was a tray."

That was too much for Freeman's his widow to read.

"I don't want to read anymore," she said crying.

Those statements were written January 1st. The autopsy report on Clarence Freeman was completed months ago. The deputy is still on the job although not in contact with inmates.

"Come on, seven months," she asked. "Who are we backing? This guy still gets up every day and goes to work."

The Sheriff's Office declined our request to speak with anyone in Internal Affairs, but according to their own records, the seven month investigation in the Freeman case is not unique. After hearing about this case we put the Sheriff's Internal Affairs squad inFocus and found investigations stretching into years.

We'll show you how long the Harris County Sheriff's Department takes to figure out if its own deputies are breaking the rules or even that Friday night at 10.

There is a lot more to those statements than what we could include in our report on the inFocus Blog.

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