MDC releases video of inmate's death while in custody | KOB 4

MDC releases video of inmate's death while in custody

Joy Wang
June 21, 2019 08:07 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New video could help answer some serious questions after an inmate died in the Bernalillo County jail back in February. There’s still an investigation into this death, and no one has been placed on leave.

However, two of the 12 correctional officers, sergeants and lieutenants involved have been reassigned to administrative jobs.

Documents show the entire dozen used physical force in the jail the night Vicente Villela died. The video gives a disturbing glimpse into that man's final minutes.

What's caught on camera matches what's described in pages of documents – Vicente Villela refusing to move from one Bernalillo County jail cell to another.

After multiple attempts, a counselor shows up, Villela cools off, and agrees to listen to officers.

At one point, Villela admits he’s high. He’s taken to change and is on his way to his jail cell. Then things take a turn.

Over and over again Villela is restrained as he yells and struggles. Villela asks for water four times.

Eventually officers ask Villela to lie down on his cell mattress so they can uncuff him. Within 30 seconds he struggles again and yells.

Multiple officers are trying to hold him down. The video shows three knee strikes to Villela's back.

The officers threaten to taze him.

Villela says he can't breathe. Within minutes, he stops responding.

Medical professionals show up and perform CPR, but Villela died within the hour.

Villela's autopsy shows he died of mechanical asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.

Bernalillo County’s communications director says there's an internal investigation into how the medical staff and correction staff performed their jobs.

“Once the review process has been completed the jail chief and his administrative team will get together, and they will make a determination on whether or not there are any policies or practices that need to be changed or implemented and of course whether or not any corrective action is warranted,” said Tia Bland.

In a Bernalillo County report, the unit captain recommended having practice drills with medical personnel and security staff in case another incident like this happens.


Joy Wang

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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