Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office accused of denying inmate's cancer treatment leading to his death

Lileana Pearson Image
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
Inmate dies after Fort Bend Co. denies cancer treatment, family says
Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office is accused of denying Albert Ramirez cancer treatment while he was in jail, leading to his death.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- In early 2020, Albert Ramirez was accused of aggravated robbery after he had just received a liver cancer diagnosis and didn't get a treatment plan before being taken into custody.

"They said they were taking care of him. They said they were informed. They said they knew he had cancer, and I said, 'Well, I haven't heard from him, and I just need to know; Is he in the hospital? Is he here? Is he OK?' And they couldn't tell me that," his sister, Esmerelda Trigo, said.

Bill Ogden, the lawyer on the case, said his law firm had a medical professional go over Ramirez's medical documents from the jail, and they believed he had been severely mistreated.

"Leading up to his hospitalization, every single day for two months, the nurse writes down for the doctor, 'Patient is asking for cancer medication.' He never got it, and by the time they identified him as being unresponsive and got him to a hospital, the medical condition he was in was not savable," Ogden said.

Trigo said she didn't even learn about her brother's worsening health problems from jail leadership or then-Sheriff Troy Nehls. Instead, it was Ramirez's bunkmate that wanted to make sure his family knew Albert wasn't doing OK.

"I was upset because I knew that he had cancer, and I wasn't sure if he was seeing the right doctor. So when I got the call from the inmate, I was even more concerned because he told me he was on his bunk for almost three days unresponsive," Trigo said.

She trusted that answer, but later she got a call saying she was needed at a nearby hospital. Her brother was there, and it wasn't good.

"They said they didn't know if he was going to make it. I said, 'I don't care. You do everything you can for him,'" Trigo said. Albert died in the hospital.

Trigo said now she's fighting for everyone else behind bars to make sure they get the treatment they were promised.

"I'm fighting it. I'm standing to get justice for him," Trigo said.

The Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office wouldn't comment on the case. They did reach out to say in the last three years, six people have died in their custody, two of whom died in medical facilities.

Ogden said Ramirez is considered to have died by natural causes, but he's extremely disappointed that's the way his death is being labeled.

"For the better part of four or five months, he sat there and slowly died in an uncomfortable way no human should do. Even if he was convicted, no one should have to go through that, and if the government is going to lock someone into a cage, they have to give them medical treatment," Ogden said.

The Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office said in an email Trigo does not have all the information pertaining to her brother's death. Sharing despite Ogden's teaming saying they have access to county medical records, that per federal and state law an inmates medical information is not released to the public. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Texas Medical Privacy Act prohibit the release of identifiable health information in any form. This is known as Personal History Information (PHI).

ABC13 has reached out to the sheriff's office and the Fort Bend County District Attorney's Office and was told to reach out to the county attorney. Eyewitness News is waiting to hear back.

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