Following a petition by Pedro Gonzales Jr’s family, a judge is to decide whether to depose Officers Jason Buckaloo and Christopher Jones of the Pasadena Police Department in the investigation of the death of Pedro Gonzales Jr’s death.
The family has not yet brought a lawsuit against the PPD, and the test results of the autopsy have not be released yet.
Paper: Houston Chronicle
Date: Sat 08/25/2007
Court to handle questions about prisoner’s death / Family wants a judge to get two Pasadena officers to explain details involving the case
By ROBERT CROWE
Attorneys for Pedro Gonzales Jr.’s family have asked a judge to order two Pasadena police officers to answer their questions about the events leading to his death in a jail cell last month.
“We’re filing this to bring the truth to light because the city has given multiple conflicting accounts and has failed … to give full disclosure to the public of the actions of its officers,” said Clyde “Jay” Jackson, an attorney representing Gonzales’ wife, Diana.
Gonzales, 51, was found dead in a jail cell on July 21, about five hours after officers Christopher S. Jones and Jason W. Buckaloo arrested him between 2 and 2:30 a.m. on suspicion of public intoxication in the 1300 block of East Harris.
“It’s really up to the court’s discretion whether to allow” the depositions, said Greg Cagle, the officers’ Texas Municipal Police Association attorney.
A judge could decide in the next two weeks whether to issue an order to depose officers, lawyers said.
Fifth Amendment question
The petition filed Friday in Harris County also seeks depositions from Pasadena jailers and the female 911 operator who took a call from a woman who reported that a man was beaten by officers at the time and location where Buckaloo and Jones arrested Gonzales.
Police have said the 911 operator told a supervisor about the call, but no one was sent to investigate the brutality allegation.
“If there is a petition, we’ll respond to it according to the rules and the controlling law,” said Bill Helfand, the city of Pasadena’s attorney.
The family has not filed a lawsuit.
If deposed, the officers could invoke Fifth Amendment rights not to incriminate themselves, said Richard Alderman, associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Houston Law Center.
“You don’t have to incriminate yourself, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to talk about anything to do with a particular event,” he said.
Test results not released
Police initially said Gonzales suffered injuries by tripping and falling as officers escorted him to a patrol car.
Preliminary autopsy results, police said, indicated he died from a punctured lung caused by a bone splinter from a fractured rib.
Final autopsy and toxicology results have not been made available.
Gonzales’ family said it is odd that police released the man from the jail at about 1 a.m. on July 21 before Jones and Buckaloo re-arrested him, one hour later, less than a half-mile from the jail.
Gonzales’ sister, Elvia Garza, has said police told her the morning of his death that he may have died from a heart attack or stroke.
Pre-incision autopsy photos show multiple bruises, cuts and abrasions to various parts of Gonzales’ body as well as what appear to be blood splatters on his jeans.
Other photos show that Gonzales’ two top front teeth were missing.
Family said those teeth were not missing before he was booked into the jail on July 18 for public intoxication.