EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A 23-year-old was booked into the El Paso County Detention Facility in Downtown on a driving while intoxicated charge. Eight days later, he’d die in custody.
The El Paso Police Department and El Paso County Sheriff’s Office booked Brandon Pacheco Calzada several times between April 2018 and December 2021 over intoxication charges and possession of marijuana, according to county records. But during his last booking, Calzada would die of a drug overdose, according to a report submitted to the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
He was booked on Dec. 16 and assigned to the fifth floor of the jail under a COVID-19 quarantine protocol. Calzada joined four others already in the cell, according to the report. Officers inside the jail found “some pills” inside his belongings, the report also states.
On Dec. 24, patrol officers were asked to escort Calzada to an interview on the second floor of the jail around 5 a.m. Within an hour, guards called for the 23-year-old in his cell.
Another inmate told officers Calzada was asleep in his bunk and not responding. A detention officer identified as Martinez entered his cell to check on him.
“(Officer) Martinez entered the cell and discovered Calzada on top of a bunk his skin pale and he was gasping for air,” the report states. “D.O. (detention officer) Martinez requested a supervisor and medical staff to the floor.”
Within minutes, medical teams arrived to administer first aid. Moments later, an ambulance took Calzada to a hospital, where he was placed on a ventilator. He stayed at the hospital for hours before being pronounced dead.
Calzada’s case is under an investigation and an autopsy is being performed.
His story is similar to four other incidents that have recently unfolded at the Downtown jail, which is managed by the sheriff’s office. The El Paso County Sheriffs Office authored reports to the Texas Attorney General detailing events at the Downtown jail.
Last June, a Mexican national named Fernando Candelas Serna died of a fentanyl overdose in the jail, according to an autopsy report obtained by KTSM.
Since Candelas’ death, four others have died while in custody at the jail.
When asked for an interview, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office said the reports submitted to the Texas Attorney General did not “seem entirely accurate.”
“The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has been working diligently to reduce contraband in the El Paso County Jails. While we can’t stop arrestees from consuming drugs prior to being arrested and presented at the jail, we have installed full body scanners at both jails.,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “As we provide training on this system, we have been successful in preventing drugs from entering the secured portions of the jails. “
Trading pills for phone time and commissary
Most recently, Gilbert Nunez, 31, who was arrested on an assault against family member charge, died of unknown reasons while in the sheriff’s office’s custody. A report made to the Texas Attorney General’s Office alleges another inmate had possibly traded pills with Nunez for phone time and commissary credits.
“Officers recovered several pills from one of the other inmates assigned to cell block 830,” the report states. “The pills tested positive as fentanyl possibly mixed with methamphetamines.”
Nunez was booked on Feb. 8, 2020 and was being held on bonds totaling just over $100,000.
On Jan. 25, a detention officer was conducting checks on the eighth floor of the jail when he heard banging and yelling coming from a cell. Another officer opened the cell while the other checked inside the cell.
An inmate told the detention officer Nunez was not responding.
“Inmate Nunez was housed in a single man lock down cell inside tank 830 and under 30-minute observation due to suicide watch,” according to the report. “Inmate Nunez has a history of both mental and physical problems dating back to his original booking in 2020.”
The detention officer shook Nunez’s shoulder as he was in a sitting position on the floor, according to the report. Nunez was unresponsive to the detention officer.
An ambulance later came for Nunez and took him to a hospital. He was later pronounced dead.
Two deaths on the same day
On December 6, two emergencies at the jail happened 30 minutes apart.
Around 10 p.m., detention officers were called to check on Eric Dominguez, 35, as he was seen slumped over near his cell door. When one officer entered his cell, he shook him by the shoulder and saw he was not responding, according to the report.
A medical team was called to help him. And, shortly after, he was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The cause of his death is unknown.
Dominguez had been arrested by the Socorro Police Department for theft of property greater than $2,500 and possession of a controlled substance. He was booked into the jail on November 28, 2021.
Earlier that day, Dominguez fell to the floor after he had been given medication. The clinic at the jail evaluated him, before he was returned to his cell, according to the report.
Then, around 10:30 p.m., detention officers were called to the cell of Justin Flores, 31, who was found laying on the floor of his cell. He had no other signs of injuries, according to the report.
Medical staff performed first aid, before an ambulance took him to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The cause of his death is also unknown.
Flores had been booked on an assault toward family member charge by the El Paso Police Department. His bonds totaled $70,000. He was jailed on November 26, 2021.
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