HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – The parents of an 32-year-old inmate found dead inside a Harris County Jail cell went before the public Wednesday afternoon to demand a more thorough investigation into their son's death. The family does not believe that the man would harm himself, and they want answers.
The inmate, Vincent Dwayne Young, was housed in the Harris County Sheriff’s Office at 1200 Baker Street Detention Medical Infirmary.
Deputies assigned to the medical infirmary were conducting visual cell checks at 7:10 p.m. Monday when Young was found hanging by a bed sheet. Deputies immediately summoned for medical personnel, who initiated CPR and medical intervention until EMS with the Houston Fire Department took over medical procedures. Young was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital, but doctors were unable to revive him. He died five days before his birthday.
Quanell X is representing the family as it puts heavy pressure on the sheriff's office to look further into Young's death.
The Institute of Forensic Sciences will determine his cause of death.
Young's loved ones met with law enforcement, who assured them that the department was conducting a full and comprehensive investigation.
[The following exchange was posted on a Facebook video, showing officers speaking with law enforcement.]
"When an investigation like this happens, there are some things that I can't release unless I put my job on the line so it's all part of the investigation, but what I can say is there is going to be no doctoring done," a deputy said. "I didn't know your brother, I didn't know your son. All I can go on is the family's opinion or belief that he wouldn't do this."
A woman claiming to be Young's sister said he was beaten up before when he was in jail. That claim has not been confirmed by authorities or records.
"My nephew told us, 'If I go back down there, they are going to kill me.' And guess what? He's dead," a man identifying himself as Young's uncle said.
The uncle said he believes that Young was harmed because he asked questions or "bugged" police, so they intentionally lost his paperwork, delaying his release.
"He would have been bonded out but his paperwork was misplaced because he asked too many questions," the uncle said. "He knew she was bonding him out today. Why would he kill himself? Why would he kill himself if he coming home? He got three newborn babies Why would he kill himself if he got a bond? It doesn't make any sense."
The family would not believe that Young, a family man, would take his own life just days before his birthday.
The veteran deputy addressing the family explained what happens when finding an inmate unresponsive.
"The first thing that we don't do if someone is hanging is just walk away. From 30 years on patrol and a short time here, if I see someone hanging I don't just walk away," the deputy explained. "I cut them down and start CPR."
The family disputed that anyone tried to help Young, some felt he died at the hands of officers.
Young's sister said he was too tall and too big to hang himself from a bunk.
"They killed him, they killed him and they know they killed him," she cried before being comforted by another woman seen on the video.
The deputy answering the family's questions remained calm and further explained policies and procedures of the department.
"The state requires that we make rounds every 30 minutes, we do them every 25. So all of that is being looked into," he said.
The family asked if there was any surveillance footage of what happened and were disturbed by the response.
"There is no video in his specific cell," the officer explained.
As with all in custody deaths, the incident is being thoroughly investigated for violations of policy and law. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit, the Office of Inspector General Bureau and the Internal Affairs Division are conducting simultaneous investigations.
In addition to HCSO's extensive internal investigation, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office will conduct a thorough review of its findings and present them to a grand jury.
Family members stressed that there will be no rest until there is justice.
"Y'all have y'all brothers because y'all work together, but at the end of the day if you don't take nothing from this conversation, understand this. All of us up in here, we are believers of God. So whoever did something to my brother, if they feel like they are going to be able to hide and get away with it, it's not going to happen," the sister said. "That was our backbone, that was my mama's backbone. That was somebody's child, somebody's brother, uncle, daddy. And for it to be like this, I don't see how people can sleep at night knowing that you know something is wrong."