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Widow Describes Heartless County Jailers

GALVESTON, Texas (CN) - A widow claims in court that county jailers caused her husband's stroke and death by withholding his medication - and that jailers dumped his full bedpan on him as he lay sick in bed.

Shelley McPeak-Torres sued Brazoria County and its Sheriff Charles Wagner in a pro se complaint in Federal Court. Her son Alexander Torres, also sued.

Torres claims her husband, Lisandro Torres, was arrested and booked into the Brazoria County Jail on Sept. 18, 2009, on a charge of driving while intoxicated.

"Prior to his arrest, Torres suffered from a number of physical ailments, including diabetes, which required him to take daily medications, and high blood pressure, which required daily medication," according to the complaint. "Upon his detention in the BCDC, Torres informed the staff, employees of Sheriff Wagner and Brazoria County, of his medical conditions and medication needs.

"Defendants wholly ignored and failed to provide Torres with necessary medical care. Without his medication and proper medical care, Torres suffered a severe stroke."

The widow says the county took Torres to a Houston hospital for treatment for several days, then returned him to jail.

"As a result of the stroke, Torres suffered certain physical limitations. Specifically, Torres had difficulty walking, talking, chewing or swallowing. These symptoms became progressively worse while in the custody of the defendants," the complaint states. "Despite repeated requests from Torres and his wife, defendants refused to provide proper medical care.

"Over the course of a few months Torres lost approximately 70 pounds. Torres was unable to chew or swallow his food. The jailers and staff of the BCDC belittled him and refused to provide him with food or medical care.

"The jailers and staff of BCDC, accused Torres of 'faking' his medical conditions and physical limitations.

"Torres was required to take several medications. BCDC staff would limit the time for him to swallow his medications, and refuse to give him adequate time given his difficulty swallowing. BCDC failed to provide him liquid or alternative medications that were easier for him to swallow. As Torres' condition worsened, he was unable to walk or get out of his bed. Torres was unable to get up to use the bathroom or wash himself. Torres pleaded with BCDC staff and other inmates to assist him

The widow says the jailhouse staff flatly refused, telling her husband "he could not have his medication unless he 'got off his ass, and out of bed.'"

She says Torres' cellmates put a small container next to his bed to serve as his bedpan.

"One of the jailers saw the 'bedpan' and became enraged at Torres and the other inmates. The BCDC jailer, entered the cell and poured the full contents of the 'bedpan' on Torres as he lay in his bed," the widow says in her complaint.

"The jailer stated to Torres that he can get off his ass and stop faking, or he can lay there in his own waste and stench.

"As a result of defendants' total disregard for Torres' medical care and nutrition, Torres died in the custody of defendants on March 12, 2010."

The mother and son seek damages for wrongful death and civil rights violations.

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