Parents sue over death of son in county jail

Woman claims jail withheld son's pills

By Jace Larson - Investigative Reporter

GALVESTON, Texas - The parents of a man who died while in the jail are suing the sheriff because they claim the jail withheld their son’s anxiety disorder medication, causing him to have a seizure and die.

“I don’t go through a day when I don’t break down at some point,” Diane Jacobs, the mother of Jesse Jacobs Jr., told Channel 2. “It’s been horrible.”

In late 2014, Jesse Jr. made what his parents admit was a big mistake.

"He came home from work one night and had some wine and decided to go get tacos at Taco Cabana and got stopped. He was charged with a DUI,” his father, Jesse Sr., said.

Jesse Jr. had been busted for a DUI before. But instead of fighting the new charge, he pleaded guilty and was ordered to report to the Galveston County jail for 30 days.

At the time, Jessie Jr. took medication, including alprazolam, for panic disorders. Before reporting to jail, Jesse Jr.'s psychiatrist wrote a letter to the jail spelling out his needs.

Once locked up, Diane and Jesse Sr. said without explanation the jail withheld their son’s pills.

About a week into his stay, Jesse Jr. stopped calling his parents and suffered a seizure, one of several to come. Eight days into his stay, Jesse Jr. had a massive seizure and died.

On Jesse's death certificate, the medical examiner listed his cause of death as “seizure disorder” and "abrupt discontinuation of longterm alprazolam medication."

"I deal with anger every day, because this was a senseless death. If they had simply given him his medication, he would be here today,” Jesse Jr.’s dad told investigative reporter Jace Larson.

It's been more than a year since Jesse died on March 14, 2015, and his parents said they can't get straight answers from the jail.

"I want justice for my son. I want to know why he had to die a needless death," Diane Jacobs said.

Sheriff Henry Trochesset runs the Galveston County Jail. He told Channel 2 his jail treats inmates well.

"I think the care here at our jail is much better than at many facilities," he said.

The jail has medical wards staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When it comes to Jesse’s Jr.’s jail stay, Trochesset said he cannot comment because the family has filed a lawsuit against him.

“I think more is to come,” he said.

In Galveston, jail staff now have a new intake form to more easily diagnose problems and needs when inmates arrive.

Trochesset said he stands by his handling of Jesse Jr.'s case, even if he can’t talk about the details.

His firm stance angers Jesse's parents.

"I don’t want any parent to have to go through that with their child. It was so senseless," Diane Jacobs said.

Since 2009, seven people have died in the Galveston County Jail. Galveston County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Marry Johnson said 140,000 inmates were booked during that time frame.

Have information about a jail or another tip for investigative reporter Jace Larson? Email or text him at jlarson@kprc.com or 832-493-3951.

2016 Click2Houston.com/KPRC 2