Inmate Collapses and Dies in Houston Police Custody

Inmate Collapses and Dies in Houston Police Custody
H. Michael Karshis/Flickr

An inmate collapsed and died in Houston police custody on Labor Day before he could be transported to the Harris County Jail, Houston police said.

Willie Ray Wright collapsed around 5:15 a.m. Monday at the Houston Police Central Jail and died a few hours later at the hospital. An autopsy determined Wright died because of a large blood clot in his lungs, police said. 

HPD's homicide and internal affairs divisions are investigating Wright's death, as is customary with in-custody fatalities, the department said.

He had been arrested Saturday on a felony robbery charge and booked at the Riesner Street facility until he could be transported to the nearby Harris County Jail, department spokesman John Cannon said. 

The Houston Police Department runs two jails for short-term detention of suspects. If inmates are not offered or cannot post bond, Cannon said, they are transported to the Harris County Jail to await trial. 

Court records state Wright was denied bond, and was due again in court Wednesday. Cannon was unsure when Wright was due to be transported to the county jail.

Wright's criminal history, which according to court records dates back to 1980 in Harris County, includes felony convictions for robbery and possession of a controlled substance.

We have asked the Houston Police Department how many suspects have died at its jails this year, and will update when we hear back. Last month, we reported that six inmates have died in the Harris County Jail this year — some under dubious circumstances. Almost 200 suspects have died in Harris County Sheriff's Department custody between 2005 and 2015, a report found.


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