What surveillance video reveals about an inmate’s death at MDC

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Surveillance video is revealing more about what led to the death of a Metropolitan Detention Center inmate in June.

The jail has not released the video, pointing to a new law that says they don’t have to, but MDC officials allowed KOB 4 reporter Tommy Lopez to watch it.

The surveillance video shows 34-year-old John Sanchez inside the jail on June 12.

KOB 4 spoke with his family days later, when doctors told them Sanchez no longer had brain function. Sanchez left behind two children.

In the video, Sanchez is seen walking slowly down a hallway with one correctional officer. He turns and runs away. The officer catches up, and drags him to the ground from behind. Sanchez immediately grabs the back of his head.

The officer cuffs him and hands him off to four other correctional officers. One minute later, as they’re walking him down a hallway, a different officer struggles with Sanchez and slams him on the ground, hard, head first.

The correctional officers took him to the medical area afterward.

An hour later he was back in his cell, and hours after that, Sanchez was rushed to a hospital.

The week of the incident, an MDC spokesperson said Sanchez, “was involved in two altercations and an escape attempt.”

The only times Lopez saw Sanchez suffer any injuries were when correctional officers twice slammed him to the ground. KOB 4 had asked the jail for all videos from that day where Sanchez can be seen. If other inmates hurt him, Lopez was not able to see it.

The autopsy lists the cause of death as “blunt head trauma.” The Office of the Medical Investigator concluded the manner of death was “homicide.”

“He was a good kid. Really good kid,” said Benny Jaramillo, Sanchez’s father.

He had not seen the video, so Lopez explained to him what he saw.

“I’m upset,” Jaramillo said. “Very upsetting because he was handcuffed.”

He said he couldn’t understand why the officers used so much force.

“My son wasn’t that big. Maybe about 5 foot 5, 130 pounds wet. He wasn’t that big of a guy to be such a threat that they’d have to slam him to the floor on his head,” Jaramillo said.

He said hospital workers told him if Sanchez had gotten to the hospital earlier, he may have lived.

“I feel like if you get slammed on your head or anything like that you should get sent to a hospital right away.”

Jaramillo hopes the officers who did this lose their jobs.

Sanchez donated his organs and helped three people.

As KOB 4 reported in June, Jaramillo said his son was addicted to fentanyl at the time of his arrest. Jaramillo believes his son would have been having withdrawal symptoms at the time of the incident.

Sanchez’s death is still under investigation, according to a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson and an MDC spokesperson, who said two of the three correctional officers who went on administrative leave have returned to work.

Two MDC inmates died last week — three days apart, according to Bernalillo County officials. Both deaths are under investigation.