Family questioning quality of medical care after Harris County inmate dies in custody

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The local family of a Harris County jail inmate, who died while in custody, wants to know more about the circumstances leading up to his death.

Ronald Washington, 68, passed away last month after being quarantined for mumps. His wife and daughter said they just want answers and to present several questions, so other families won't have to go through what they've experienced.

The family's first question: did the Harris County jail give Washington the medical attention that he needed?

“We don’t have any closure," his daughter Tressia Dennis said. "We don’t know what happened and we can’t get any answers. I know that when my dad came in, he didn’t have the mumps. This is not just about my dad, but its also about the inmates that are here now and future inmates that they get proper medical care.”

The two women accompanied by attorney, Randall Kallinen, held a media conference outside the Harris County Sheriff's Office and Detention Facility Monday to talk about his death and their unanswered questions. Harris County officials told the family Washington was in the infirmary at the jail before being quarantined for mumps. A short time later, he was taken to St. Joseph's hospital where he was pronounced dead on June 10.

Kallinen tells us the autopsy report has not been completed yet, but the medical examiner's office told them that Washington had some type of respiratory problem when he died.

"We are wondering did the Harris County jail treat [Washington] correctly," Kallinen said. "Did they give him everything they could? Did they not take him to the hospital in a timely manner because they wanted to save money? Why didn't Ronald get treated properly and why did he pass away. We have received no answer."

Kallinen went on to say they aren't just going to start with a lawsuit right away. The want the facts first, so they are waiting on the autopsy and the Harris County incident report. The attorney also said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told him it was their policy for the Texas Rangers to investigate inmate deaths, so they'll want to see the report from the Rangers before moving forward as well.

"[The inmates] are human beings, they deserve medical care," Dennis said. "They deserve more than what they are receiving right now, and it's sad. I never thought that our family would be going through this today. We were expecting my dad to come home, but he had to come home to a funeral."

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