The other cases were also closed despite disturbing autopsy results.
The Ranger who examined Lorenzo Juarez’s death outside of Austin has learned from pathologists he had a petechial hemorrhage – tiny bites of blood in his eyes that also suggest strangulation – when he was arrested in 2018. Mr Juarez, 47, was on methamphetamine and threw a metal pipe at the side of a road when the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office was called to the scene. One deputy pressed Mr Juarez with one forearm against the base of his neck, and others put weight on him as he was given a dose of Versed, a sedative, by paramedics.
But after the autopsy report, Ranger Brent Barina did not document any effort to re-interview MPs or seek an explanation as to why the capillaries in Mr Juarez’s eyes might have burst. The medical examiner determined the death was an accident caused by methamphetamine, but noted a “component of asphyxiation.”
The ranger who investigated the death of Wesley Manning, 40, gave a detailed examination of the case, which took place on Rattlesnake Point Road in Aransas County, near Corpus Christi, in 2015.
In a 59-page report based on 12 interviews and multiple videos, he recounted how sheriff’s deputies and police officers who believed Mr. Manning was preventing his girlfriend from receiving medical treatment shocked him twice with a pistol paralyzing him, sprayed him with pepper spray, threw him to the ground, stuck a baton in his neck, put handcuffs on him, put a knee in his back, stuck his fingers in the pressure points behind his jaw, punched him and tied his legs up before he stopped breathing.
Ranger Antonio DeLuna also noted that the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide caused by “sudden cardiac death as a result of restraint procedures.” But he didn’t include an additional detail from the forensic examination: that a piece of the cartilage around his voice box was fractured, another warning sign that death investigators are trained to look for.
Despite the murder decision and the otherwise thorough investigation, the outcome was the same as in the other cases. The Ranger appeared before a grand jury, which did not issue any charges.
A lack of specialists
Despite its large population and land area, Texas employs about 165 Rangers statewide – the Houston Police Department, by comparison, has 5,300 sworn officers – and most Rangers work as generalists, investigating major crimes. and cases of public corruption and deaths in custody according to day.