Authorities are investigating the 10th Harris County Jail death this year after an inmate died from a medical emergency on Sunday, according to the sheriff’s office.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that 49-year-old Oscar Villazana died after being hospitalized with a pre-existing medical condition.
On Thursday, July 13, Villazana was rushed to Memorial Hermann and died on Sunday at 10:14 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office.
The Texas Rangers are investigating the death in accordance with state law that requires all jail deaths to be investigated by an outside law enforcement agency. Villazana’s death has been reported to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
Villazana’s cause of death will be determined by an autopsy conducted by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.
The 49-year-old was booked into jail on Oct. 3, 2022.
In December 2022, a grand jury indicted him, and he stayed in jail on a $25,000 bond. His next court appearance was scheduled for September 2023, and he had previous felony convictions for assaulting a family member, aggravated assault, and drug possession.
Krishnaveni Gundu is the Co-Founder & Executive Director of the Texas Jail Project, a non-profit that organizes with, and advocates for, people incarcerated in Texas county jails.
“It’s not surprising. It’s predictable,” she told reporters. “It’s just deeply frustrating to keep the sheriff’s office to hear the sheriff’s office say the same. Think you know the same excuse over and over again. It’s a medical emergency. I wonder how many times this person was asking for medical care before this turned into a medical emergency?”
There is also currently an FBI probe into two previous jail deaths. The agency confirmed in February it was investigating the in-custody deaths at the request of Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
The sheriff’s office told reporters it is unlikely Villana’s death would be part of that investigation.