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Galveston County Sheriff Refuses To Release Documents In Death Of Gay Man In Custody

Jesse Jacobs died in custody of the Galveston County Sheriff.
Jesse Jacobs died in custody of the Galveston County Sheriff.

Galveston County Sheriff Refuses To Release Documents In Death Of Gay Man In Custody

(HOUSTON, TX) – The Galveston County Sheriff is refusing to release documents, any videos and the intake form of a gay man that died while in custody at the Galveston County Jail back in March 2015 fearing a lawsuit from the family. A move that shows not all law enforcement agencies are ready to be completely transparent.

On March 6, 2015, Jesse C. Jacobs was processed into the Galveston County Jail to serve 15 days for a second DWI offense. He served about half of that, and was pronounced dead on March 14, 2015 at University of Texas – Medical Branch in Galveston after being transported from the Galveston County Jail.

Sheriff Henry Trochesset told local ABC affiliate KTRK-13 he would not release anything out of fear of litigation from the family. As protests and riots continue around the country, and in Texas over the Sandra Bland case; the Jacob’s case is being hidden from the family and the public by Galveston officials.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law that gives you the right to access information from the government. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.

The Jacobs family is outraged over the lack of transparency. “I’m angry,” says Jacobs’ father, also named Jesse. “Because as far as I’m concerned, they executed my son just as sure as if they put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.” Jesse told Miya Shay of KTRK-13.

In accordance to the law, the Sheriff of Galveston County must disclose any information requested under the FOIA unless it falls under one of nine exemptions, which protect interests such as personal privacy, and national security. None of the nine exemptions would allow for the Sheriff to withhold information that should be made available to the public and family of Jacobs.

One exemption would be an on-going criminal investigation into the death of Jacobs. The Galveston County Sheriff has stated that the cause of death in the autopsy report is natural causes.

KTRK-13 asked Sheriff Trochesset if he believes everything was done by the book. “It appears that way,” he answered. Trochesset told About Magazine ‘he hasn’t worked inside the jail it self in about 30 years.’

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ACLU Calls For Transparency In Death of Jesse Jacobs in Galveston Jail

Jesse Jacobs died in custody of the Galveston County Sheriff.
Jesse Jacobs died in custody of the Galveston County Sheriff.

ACLU Calls For Transparency In Death of Jesse Jacobs in Galveston Jail

(HOUSTON, TX) —On Tuesday the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Matt Simpson, called for Sheriff Henry Trochessett, of the Galveston Sheriff’s Department to be ‘transparent’ referring to requests to release information surrounding Jesse C. Jacobs, a 32 year old mans death while in custody of the Galveston County Sheriff’s Department (G.C.S.D.)

Simpson, a policy strategist for the ACLU and advocates for civil rights and civil liberties also works with local campaigns related to criminal justice reform, such as prison and jail policy, and law enforcement information sharing.

Documents obtained by About Magazine describe the official housing assignments while Jacobs was in custody in minimal detail. Leaving more questions of what really happened behind the walls of the Galveston County Jail.

 |MARCH 6, 2015 BOOKED INTO THE JAIL AND ASSIGNED HOUSING IN GENERAL POPULATION.

|MARCH 7-9 2015- NO RECORDS OF JACOBS LOCATION

|MARCH 10, 2015- JACOBS TRANSFERRED TO MEDICAL

|MARCH 11, 2015- NO RECORDS OF JACOBS LOCATION

|MARCH 12, 2015 JACOBS TRANSFERRED TO MEDICAL THEN TO UTMB

About Magazine and KTRK-13 obtained an exclusive copy of the In-Take form.  The form describes Jacobs’s medical needs for Xanax. The intake form’s purpose is to bring awareness to information for the Sheriff’s department. Galveston Sheriffs office was aware of Jacob’s need for certain medications. Instead the Sheriff’s office opted for their own medical plan.

“Most county jails have a formulary that they use to prescribe drugs” Simpson explains. “And almost off of them do not include Xanax.” He says.

“The thought that he (Jacobs) was taken to University of Texas – Medical Branch after he was unresponsive, this absolutely should not have happened.” Simpson tells About Magazine referring to the days leading up to Jacob’s death. “He was in custody, how was it so late in the game, that he got to UTMB?” The family and supporters of Jacobs hope the answers to their concerns are in the information the Sheriff will not release implying his blanket refusal is covering something up.

Using the term ‘investigation’ as a pretext to not releasing the information is very standard Simpson explained. “It sounds like the Sheriff (Trochessett) was negligent and should be sued.”

The Galveston Co. District Attorney , Jack Roady, informed About Magazine on Monday, that the district attorney’s office is reviewing the ‘Jacobs’ case. “The Sheriff’s Office conducted its investigation then referred the matter to our office.” Roady stated. Unlike officials in the Sandra Bland case, the D.A. stated; “since it is under review, we will not be releasing any details until after a thorough investigation has been completed.”

“The Sheriff has every right to intervene when there is a medical condition, and he should have before this young man’s cardiac arrest occurred.” Simpson said referring to the seizures Jacobs was enduring.

Roselee Baily of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) concluded on April 17, 2015 that no violation(s) had occurred after a ‘review’ of the allegations with the jail staff. The letter does not mention any investigation had occurred. A request for a copy of that report was denied.

In a standard letter sent to the Jacobs family, the TCJS states ‘the policy of the TCJS is to ‘not question the professional opinion of medical personnel.’ It suggests speaking with the jail medical staff should they ‘feel’ the treatment was not appropriate.

About Magazine obtained Inspection Reports of the Galveston Jail, on April 21, 2015,that occurred less than one month after Jacobs’s death. The report does not indicate violations within the jail’s medical department nor a consultation with medical staff relating to the death.

The official TCJS report does cite that ‘Galveston jailers were not consistently documenting their face-to-face observations of inmates confined in special areas.’ Indicating jailers were not checking on inmates in the Medical unit as directed.

In 2014 the Texas Commission on Jail Standards received 1,694 written complaints, medical services constituted for 56% of those complaints.

“A part of this is familiar to us (ACLU) is jails often fail to identify with withdraw symptoms, and it can de deadly.” Simpson explains. “We are not talking about people on heroin; everyone knows that can be deadly to withdraw from.”

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