Harris Co. jail inmate dies

August 24, 2009 5:58:29 PM PDT
A young father died in jail, and his family thinks Harris County is responsible. Relatives noticed Daniel Aguirre didn't look well during a visit on August 16. Two days later, he was dead. Daniel Aguirre, 20, was at the Harris County jail for less than one month before his sudden death. His family says it's what happened inside that caused him to die.

Aguirre, father of two, was jailed in mid-July for assaulting a family member and injuring a child. By mid-August, his family says he'd been involved in three separate fights in jail.

"Daniel got beat up by a jailer three times," said Kenia Avelar, Aguirre's aunt.

Christina Garza with the Harris County Sheriff's Office explained, "He was taken down to our medical services division. However, each time he refused medical treatment."

Once, Aguirre's aunt says, a fight broke out while he was showering and another time when he asked for toothpaste. His aunt says the most recent incident was Sunday, August 16. Avelar visited him that day.

"Daniel said he got his head and slammed against the wall several times," she recalled.

That night, Aguirre was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital.

Avelar told Eyewitness News, "He was in a deep coma."

Aguirre died on Tuesday, August 18. His aunt said the hospital offered the family the following explanation.

"They said Daniel had a blood clot in his head and his blood vessels tangled up on the right side of his head," Avelar said.

According to the medical examiner's office, Aguirre's cause of death is listed as pending, until further studies are done.

So far in 2009, nine inmates have died in custody at Harris County jail. That number includes people with prior health problems and those who died of natural causes. According to his family, neither reason applies to Aguirre's case.

Garza said, "These are certainly the types of events that we wish would not happen. The reality is that they do occur."

The Harris County Sheriff's office says it's conducting an in-depth investigation into what caused Aguirre's death. For his family, the answers can't come soon enough.

"We're never going to know," Avelar said. "Daniel's not here to defend himself anymore."

Aguirre's family plans to file a formal complaint with the sheriff's department.

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