Video of Migrant Teen's Last Hours Raises Questions

An ailing Carlos Vasquez died in a holding cell and was not spotted for hours
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2019 11:06 AM CST

In the early morning hours of May 20, 16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez died in his Border Patrol holding cell in Texas. Now, the journalism organization ProPublica has obtained video from his final hours, and it raises questions about the treatment and supervision of the sick Guatemalan teenager. Be warned: It's not pleasant viewing or reading. The video from the CBP's facility in Weslaco "shows Carlos writhing for at least 25 minutes on the floor and a concrete bench," per the story. "It shows him staggering to the toilet and collapsing on the floor, where he remained in the same position for the next four and a half hours." An activity log shows three welfare checks on Carlos during this span. But if so, agents somehow missed the teen's distress. He had been diagnosed that afternoon with the flu after running a 103-degree fever.

“Why is a teenaged boy in a jail facility at all if he is sick with a transmissible illness?" asks a San Francisco forensic pathologist who reviewed the case. "No one should die this way: vomiting, with a fever, and without the comfort of a caregiver." A CBP press release on the day Carlos died said he had been found unresponsive during a welfare check. However, the video shows that the teen's cellmate (also sick) discovered Carlos' body upon waking up and alerted authorities. ProPublica obtained the video from the Weslaco Police Department, which investigated the death. The video has a gap of four hours that CBP has yet to explain. The story digs into the context of the crowded conditions at border facilities, noting that Carlos arrived during a particularly large influx of migrants. CBP says it is conducting its own investigation into the death. (Read the full story.)

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