Another Texas Prisoner Dies But is Revived After Suffering Abuse and Medical Neglect

Right to Live

His name is Jessie Gonzales. At least that’s what a medical staff member told me. He died in an ambulance on the prison grounds on March 13, 2017, but was revived. A guard told me that. He died again at the hospital, but was revived again. A witness to a call from the hospital that morning conveyed that. The rest was witnessed by other men in the prison.

Jessie Gonzales was newly assigned to the William P. Clements Unit in Amarillo, Texas during early February 2017, so not many prisoners here knew him by name.

On the night of March 12, 2017 he suffered a toxic overdose of medically- administered drugs; medical staff at the prison have been known to routinely administer the wrong medications to prisoners, which I’ve personally experienced. As a result Jessie fell unconscious for some time.

When around 11:00 PM the mandatory “bedbook” count came, during which guards are required to have each prisoner come to the cell door with identification card in hand, he was unresponsive. But the guards, failing to revive him, walked on. Following several concerned prisoners then raising a ruckus, a lieutenant Chad Perry and nurse Melissa Coronado came to the cellblock.

Rather than address a prisoner lying unconscious as a medical emergency, they assembled a team of guards in body armor with weapons and had them raid the cell with force. Jessie was “jumped on” by the guards.

Left to Die

After he was handcuffed from behind, nurse Coronado went into the cell and recognized Jessie’s display of symptoms of toxic overdose. She asked repeatedly what he’d taken. In his befuddled state he was unresponsive. Rather than refer him to outside emergency care or toxicological testing, she allowed Perry to tell her to leave him in the cell. They left him handcuffed from behind lying on the cell floor; a blatant violation of use of force and medical protocol.

Sometime before the 3:00 AM breakfast meal, he fell and suffered a head injury. Other prisoners alerted guards that he was lying unconscious in a pool of blood. When no help came they became riled and one prisoner Angel Lopez made guards use force on himself (spraying him with tear gas), in efforts to get Jessie help. He told Perry and Coronado that Jessie was lying unconscious in a pool of blood, in toxic overdose, and needed help. Perry told him he cared less. Nothing was done.

Another prisoner Arnold Vallegas witnessed Coronado ask Lt. Perry if he wanted her to patch Jessie’s head up or not, to which Perry replied, “Leave his dumb ass there”. Numerous prisoners requested grievances and witness statements. None were given.

By shift change at 5:00 AM the entire cellblock was in an uproar, with numerous prisoners banging on cell doors to get help. Guards and a nurse from the next shift went to Jessie’s cell. There was so much blood they thought him dead. He’d been left to bleed out for hours. When Jesse was finally brought unconscious from the cell, he was literally bathed in blood, pictures were taken, and an ambulance was summoned. That’s when he died, but was revived.

Officials Breathe a Sigh of Relief

Jessie remained in the hospital for a long while. Staff at the prison were vocally worried. Particularly those involved in his neglect. All said his medical state was “unknown”. Rumors circulated that he’d died, and didn’t recover. That if he had there would be repercussions, because of a string of controversial prisoner deaths at the prison, several resulting in still pending lawsuits.

Finally, Jessie returned to the old cellblock around April 5th. He reported having to receive over 5 pints of blood on March 13th, he’d lost so much. Guards were heard remarking had he died, the wardens, major and others would have lost their jobs, (or retired to avoid discipline and findings of wrongdoing), just as had previously happened following the death of Alton Rodgers at the prison during January 2016. Rogers died as a result of blatant medical and official neglect and the lack of administrative oversight at the prison being exposed.

In Jessie’s case, Perry – a notoriously abusive guard about whom I’ve written[1] – and medical staff left him to die in a known state of toxic overdose and heavy continuous blood loss. If he’d died, the autopsy alone would have condemned them, at least in litigation. But, he just happened to pull through, so it was all swept under the rug, no one was cited for wrongdoing, and the abuse goes on. With the same cast of abusive guards, the same neglectful medical staff and the same corrupt administration still in attendance.

To get any level of results, somebody’s got to die. And even then it’s only nominal and token window-dressing. A few resigned supervisors, a token reshuffling of personnel, a few wrists get slapped. Meantime our abuse and neglect continue, as we wait for the next one of us to die needlessly.

As witnessed by Tyrail Crosby, a man who quit working at the prison after witnessing one such death, “it’s too many people dying in there.”[2] That’s because the real killers are the ones in charge. Which is why prison officials fear public oversight and accountability, and why we must…

Dare to struggle Dare to win!
All Power to the People!


[1] For prior reports on lieutenant Chad Perry’s abuses, see Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, “Texas Officials Try to Gas Another Asthmatic Prisoner to Death” (2017), and “The Abuse Goes On: The Corrupting Dynamics of Power in a Texas Prison” (2017)

[2] Quoted from Creede Newton, “Malnourished Prisoner’s Death Reveals Horrific Conditions in A Texas Prison,” The Intercept, January 27, 2017, conditions-in-a-texas-prison/


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