Teen who died in U.S. custody was not properly monitored before death: report

Footage of a Guatemalan teen who died in U.S. custody in May contradicts official Border Patrol accounts of his death, according to ProPublica.

The video shows Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez in a cell at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas. Staff appears to overlook “increasingly obvious” signs his condition is deteriorating after initially presenting flu symptoms, according to ProPublica.

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In the footage, Vasquez is seen writhing for nearly half an hour on the cell floor and a concrete bench before walking to the toilet and collapsing. He stayed in the same position for over four hours.

The Border Patrol’s subject activity log says a Border Patrol agent checked on Vasquez three times in the early morning hours and reported no warning signs, ProPublica reports, but the video indicates his “agony was apparent” and that despite a CBP press release indicating agents discovered his body, it was in fact his cellmate.

Medical experts told ProPublica Vasquez should never have been sent to a cell rather than a hospital in the first place.

“Why is a teenaged boy in a jail facility at all if he is sick with a transmissible illness? Why isn’t he at a hospital or at a home or clinic where he can get a warm bed, fluids, supervised attention and medical care? He is not a criminal,” Judy Melinek, a San Francisco-based forensic pathologist who reviewed records of Carlos’ death at the request of ProPublica, told the organization.

“No one should die this way: vomiting, with a fever and without the comfort of a caregiver,” she added.

Vasquez was held for six days by the agency despite requirements that children be transferred within 72 hours. He was the sixth migrant child to die after U.S. detention in under a year, but the only one to die at a Border Patrol station, according to ProPublica.

A CBP official told The Hill that, "The investigation into the death Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez is ongoing. While we cannot discuss specific information or details of this investigation, we can tell you that the Department of Homeland Security and this agency are looking into all aspects of this case to ensure all procedures were followed."