Pedro Gonzales Jr died of a punctured lung caused by a rib fracture. How many ribs were fractured? 11. How were they fractured? By the knees of two police officers. Between the comments from those who knew him and the medical professionals that have weighed in on the issue, it seems that the force needed to puncture a lung would never have been needed to subdue Mr. Gonzales.
If anyone has any additional information – either about police officers Jason W. Buckaloo and Christopher S. Jones or about this incident, please contact Houston CopWatch.
Man who died in Pasadena jail had 11 rib fractures, report says
Attorney says injuries evidence of violence by Pasadena police
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
Pedro Gonzales Jr. suffered 11 fractures on eight of his ribs before he died in the Pasadena jail, according to a report police filed with the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
“This is further evidence of the violence committed on him by the Pasadena police department and their lack of attention to his medical needs,” said Clyde “Jay” Jackson, an attorney for the Gonzales family.
Pasadena Police Capt. Bud Corbett said the Internal Affairs Division has not completed its investigation.
Just two days after Gonzales’ July 21 death, police told the Attorney General’s Office that his death was a “justifiable homicide.”
“It should be noted that due to the decased’s (sic) age, poor nutrition, and alcoholism, he was more susceptible to broken bones, including ribs,” states the report, which the Chronicle obtained this week under the Texas Public Information Act.
The report lists “accidental injury, intoxication, suicide or homicide” as the cause of death. Gonzales died from injuries that had been “inflicted by law enforcement officers,” it continues. “Knee strikes” were listed as the means of death.
Gonzales had only been out of the Pasadena jail on a public intoxication charge about an hour when two officers approached him in an auto parts store parking lot, according to police. The officers reported they suspected he was intoxicated again and that Gonzales fought them when they tried to question him.
The Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a homicide caused when a rib punctured a lung, filling Gonzales’ chest cavity with blood. Chronic ethanolism was given as the secondary cause of death for Gonzales, 51. The official autopsy report has not been released.
Medical experts said the fatal lung injury he suffered is rare.
“You hardly ever see a lung pierced by a rib,” said Dr. Kyle Dickson, chairman of the orthopaedic surgery department at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
“It’s a horribly painful way to die,” said Dr. Donald Winston, a Houston emergency room surgeon who has questioned the police department’s explanation of the events leading to Gonzales’ death. “Even if this patient had alcoholism or weak bones, that’s not an excuse for the level of force it took to cause his injuries.”
Police state in the report that the officers “used several knee strikes to the deceased’s torso to subdue him.”
Gonzales was arrested and charged with assault on a police officer and resisting arrest.
Police have said a paramedic evaluated Gonzales in jail and that he declined treatment.
He died a few hours later.
Gonzales’ friends and relatives said they do not believe he violently resisted arrest or that he was capable of harming the officers.
“It took him forever just to get on his bike and ride across the street,” said Raymond Sanchez, an employee of Battery Express at 805 Shaver, where Gonzales would drop off cans he would collect.
“He was so little and weak. I don’t see how they could say he threatened them.”
A woman who has said she witnessed the incident called Pasadena police shortly after his arrest to report that two officers appeared to be beating a man.