UPDATED: 10:08 a.m. EDT, May 22 — The top law enforcement agency in Texas was set to take over the investigation into the critical medical condition of a Black man who was found in a coma about a month after he was arrested for what should have been a routine low-level misdemeanor, according to a lawyer representing the family of Chester “CJ” Jackson Jr.
“As an update, the Texas Rangers have instituted its own criminal investigation into the matter involving CJ,”
Jackson, 30, was arrested for public intoxication in front of his Somerville house on April 19 but his mother officials would not release him the following day. The next time she tried to contact Burleson County Jail, she was told her son was in a coma.
On the surface, it would seem that the injection of the Texas Rangers into the case was a positive development. However, Texas Rangers were the same law enforcement agency that took over the case of a white off-duty police officer shooting and killing an unarmed Black man inside his own home last year in Dallas. In that case, the Rangers reportedly postponed pursuing a warrant against Amber Guyger to follow up on information she told them about killing Botham Jean — a courtesy that suspects almost never receive after a police chief has called for an arrest.
In this instance, there have not been any calls from police for any arrests.
The Texas Rangers have also taken the lead on last week’s police shooting of an unarmed Black grandmother in suburban Houston. In that case, Pamela Turner was gunned down by Baytown Police Officer Juan Delacruz under what attorneys were calling false pretenses in an apparent coverup orchestrated by the police department.
A man was left clinging to life in the latest apparent instance of Texas sketchy jail system failing a Black inmate. Chester “CJ” Jackson Jr.‘s family said they suspected “foul play” was involved in the suspicious circumstances surrounding the 30-year-old’s condition.
After reportedly being arrested in front of his Somerville house on April 19, he was taken to the Burleson County Jail, where he somehow ended up in a coma at an Austin-area hospital. Jackson’s mother was notified of his release on April 20 but was not allowed to see him when she got to the jail. It was not until days later that she was told that he was at the hospital, according to local news outlet KBTX-TV.
“There’s no court orders, there’s no type of records of him even being in custody,” Shardae Parker said at a press conference on Monday.
Last month, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office told KBTX that a deputy “provided a courtesy transportation to a MHMR [Mental Health and Mental Retardation] facility in Austin” for Jackson on the day he was supposedly set to be released. The family, which said they noticed puncture marks on his body that seem to be from a taser, claimed Jackson was in good health at the time of his arrest. Authorities have not provided any explanation of how Jackson could have ended up in critical condition.
“They said they were going to release him,” Jackson’s mother said. “Monday came and I found out that he was in St. Davis in ICU in critical condition, and he still his. I wanna know what happened to my child.”
According to Jackson’s family’s attorneys, Burleson County Sheriff Thomas Norsworthy told them the jail had video of the father of three walking out of the jail in good condition. Norsworthy even promised them that he would turn over the video. But as of Tuesday afternoon, the family had yet to see the purported footage.
“All these facts point to foul play, by each person involved with the custody and care of CJ. It is evident by the withholding of information to his family” said attorney U.A. Lewis.
Black Lives Matter activists were also present at the press conference and demanded more “transparency.”
“All we are here to do is demand justice and transparency,” activist and Black Lives Matter Houston founder Ashton Woods said. “There’s no way an attorney should not have access right away to the information unless they are hiding something.”
Although Jackson was still alive, his case evoked the disturbing trend of mysterious jail deaths in the state. Sandra Bland was found dead under suspicious of circumstances in a Texas jail in 2015 and a Black man was found dead in the same cell earlier this year.