Inmate died by suicide in Starr County jail

The 32-year-old Roma man found dead in the Starr County Detention Center on Oct. 18 died by suicide, authorities say.

The Starr County Sheriff’s Office said on social media the following day that authorities found Edgar Garza unresponsive in the restroom stall of his holding cell just after midnight.

Authorities there did not publicly disclose that Garza was found hanging in the restroom stall.

However, the Starr County Sheriff’s Office filed a custodial death report with the Texas Attorney General’s office on Monday that details what authorities say happened that night.

The sheriff’s office brought Garza to the detention center at 9:22 p.m. on Oct. 18 on a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

“Inmate Edgar Garza is screened for suicide and mental developmental impairments and answers negative to all the questions,” the report states.

After being processed and booked, he was placed in a holding cell with another inmate at 9:57 p.m.

At 11:15 p.m., a guard conducting face-to-face checks says Garza is lying on a bench by the door, according to the report.

“At 11:19pm inmate Garza gets up and removes his pants, exposing basketball shorts being worn under his pants. Inmate Garza then makes his way to the restroom stalls, which are covered with metal partitions. Inmate Garza is seen on camera moving around over the top of the partition,” the report states.

At 11:27 p.m., the guard checks on a detox cell next to the holding cell where a problematic inmate was being held, according to the report.

At 11:36 p.m., the guard again checks on the holding cell while Garza is in the restroom, authorities say.

“At 11:59pm the Guard does another round of checks when he notices inmate Garza’s feet through the bottom of the partition. The Guard immediately makes his way into the holding cell to find inmate Garza hanging from the partition support beam,” the report states.

After calling for assistance, guards remove the rope from Garza’s neck and administer first aid.

“The rope that inmate Garza used appeared to be the waist draw string from his shorts,” the report states.

The document lists Garza’s time of death as 11:59 p.m.

Justice of the Peace Luis Garcia pronounced Garza dead at 1:35 a.m.

The sheriff’s office stated as standard protocol, the Texas Rangers will lead the investigation.

“The Starr County Sheriff’s Office will continue to ensure the public that the Starr County Detention Center takes the necessary measures to ensure the safety of its inmates and staff,” the office stated in a news release. “Starr County Detention Center provides medical attention and follows the guidelines set by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.”

The Starr County Detention Center is currently listed as non-compliant by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards because of the death of another inmate there.

Alberto Peña died on Aug. 13 after the Starr County Sheriff’s Office responded to 48 Fresno Circle in Rio Grande City after his father called police to complain that his son “was highly intoxicated and under the influence of drugs,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

Police in Rio Grande City arrested Peña and charged him with criminal mischief, causing damage in excess of $100 but less than $750.

He was booked into jail at 3:31 p.m.

At some point, due to him being aggressive and combative, guards placed him in a Wrap Restraint System.

The sheriff’s office says in a custodial death report that he was fighting the restraints and managed to get himself out of a roll cart at 7:50 p.m. before he’s again placed back in the restraints and asked to calm down.

At 8:50 p.m., authorities there say he was still fighting the restraints and that he was last checked on at 8:53 p.m. before he is found not moving at 9:12 p.m.

By 10:07 p.m., he was pronounced dead and a preliminary autopsy says he had cocaine, marijuana and alcohol in his system and the cause of death listed in the report is “cardio respiratory arrest while under the influence of mixed drugs and the manner of death as accidental with pending toxicology.”

On Sept. 25, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards reported the Starr County Detention Center as non-compliant because face-to-face observations of Peña were not conducted properly.

“A documented observation of the inmate shall be conducted every 15 minutes, at a minimum. The observations should include an assessment of the security of the restraints and the circulation to the extremities. Face-to-face observations were not conducted within 15 minutes as required at the time inmate Alberto Pena was found unresponsive in the WRAP restraint system,” the TCJS report states.