Relatives question HPD custody death
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
Relatives of a southeast Houston man who died while in police custody said HPD officers reneged on a promise to get him medical attention rather than take him to jail.
Darrell Lauderdale, 44, was arrested for public intoxication about 11:40 p.m. in the 6000 block of Vasser on Monday. He was brought to HPD’s southeast jail at 8300 Mykawa where HPD officials said he had a “psychotic episode,” and went into convulsions.
Lauderdale stopped breathing at the jail. He was taken to Ben Taub General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
On Wednesday, family members said it was clear that Lauderdale was having serious health problems — including profuse sweating and a racing heart beat — even before he was taken into custody.
The officers “told me they were taking him straight to the hospital from here,” said his twin brother, Derwyn Lauderdale. “They said he needed (medical) attention but they didn’t give it to him. They took him to the jail house.”
Cleatrice Timmons, Lauderdale’s sister, said she called police because someone was beating on the front door of her home in the 5900 block of Westover.
“I was home alone. I didn’t know at the time that it was (her brother) my door,” Timmons said.
After realizing that it was her brother, Timmons said she explained to the officers that something was wrong with him. They agreed, she said, telling her that he would be taken to Harris County’s Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority for an evaluation.
“I said, ‘Make sure he gets some kind of medical attention,'” Timmons said. “They said he’d be back tomorrow, but he didn’t make it back.”
On Wednesday, an HPD spokesman said he couldn’t comment on the allegations made by Lauderdale’s family.
“Since it is an ongoing investigation, we can’t get into any specifics,” said HPD spokesman Gabe Ortiz.