Family of man who died in HPD jail looking for answers
HOUSTON – A family wants answers after their loved one, Robert Stephen, 33, died in Houston police custody on Sunday.
“He's a great guy. I've been with him for seven years. It was like love at first sight,” said Crystal Johnson.
Johnson and the couple's children were in Michigan for the holidays. Johnson became worried when she couldn't reach Stephen.
“His phone was off. It had been two days I hadn't talked to him. It's kinda odd,” said Johnson.
A friend found an HPD card on their apartment door, so Johnson said she called the jail, couldn't get any information and then called the morgue.
“I gave him his name. I gave his date of birth and they told me they had his body and I just poured out crying and dropped the phone and totally lost it,” she said.
Police said officers arrested Stephen at a store on Westheimer and Dairy Ashford early Sunday. They charged the 33-year-old with public intoxication and resisting arrest. Officers said medical staff cleared Stephen before they put him in a jail cell and checked on him every 15 minutes until they found him unresponsive at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
“When I was talking to him he was totally not intoxicated. He was in a happy mood. An hour later, they say they had him in jail and eight hours later, he's just found dead in a jail cell,” said Johnson.
Officers in Texas had arrested Stephen several times since 2011. The latest arrest happened last February for possession of a controlled substance.
Johnson said despite that, Stephen was a family man with eight children and one on the way.
“I just want justice for Bobby. He's the love of my life and I'll never be the same without him," she said.
Stephen's family is organizing an independent autopsy.
The HPD internal affairs and homicide departments, along with the Harris County District Attorney's Office, were investigating.