HARRIS COUNTY – The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said they are now up to six inmates who have died while in custody at the Harris County Jail this year. Ongoing questions are swirling about how this keeps happening again, and again, and again.
“He had a lot of family. We loved him and we miss him. It’s just messed up,” said Robert Terry Sr. about his son, Robert Jr., who also went by the name of “Rico.”
He died while in custody at the Harris County Jail, where he was being held on a $30,000 bond on a retaliation charge.
“When we heard he was gone we just thought like, he was going to be in jail not that he was gone,” said Michelle Thomas.
According to officials, Robert Jr. asked officers to be taken to the jail clinic just moments before he was said to have collapsed around 6:20 a.m. Tuesday morning. He was taken to the hospital where he died. His father said he had no medical conditions and questions how any of this happened.
“For him to collapse in Harris County, that don’t make sense to me,” the father said.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said he doesn’t have much to go on, either.
“It appears to be a medical episode at this point, we don’t have any information,” Gonzalez said.
As the family awaits autopsy results and answers, the sheriff’s office said its internal affairs division is investigating to determine whether all applicable policies and procedures were followed.
“At the end of the day you should not have to come to jail to try to handle a situation that got you in here and you can check in, but you can’t check out,” said Dr. Candice Matthews with the New Black Panther Nation.
In addition, the death has been reported to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
It’s also being investigated by the Texas Rangers, in accordance with state law that requires all jail deaths to be investigated by an outside law enforcement agency.