A man arrested by Dallas police died after what officers call a medical emergency at the Dallas County jail. The Dallas Morning News reports that the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department each shifted responsibility to the other.
Officials arrested Luis Angel Perez, 25, at about 11:15 p.m. on Friday, July 15, after he allegedly failed to wait for a traffic stop an officer tried to conduct in the 3000 block of Gulden Lane in West Dallas. After investigation the officer had noticed that his car was unregistered and suspected he was driving drunk.
After a short pursuit, Perez stopped, and the officer, who had already called for backup, checked the car. According to the report, the police officer saw empty beer cans in the car and also smelled alcohol. He also reported that Perez could not follow simple commands, and his eyes were “glossed over and glassy.”
Another officer who came to the scene corroborated the first officer’s claims by reporting that he smelled alcohol and saw open beer cans. He also described Perez’s eyes as “glassy and bloodshot.”
When questioned, Perez reportedly told officers that he was coming from a billiards room and was taking friends home. He said he had not had any alcohol but could not give consistent answers to investigating officers about the beer in the car.
Perez also told officers that he did not have any medical problems such as stroke, diabetes, or epilepsy, according to the police report. However, he asked that he be left alone for his father to pick him up as he did not want his father to know about the situation.
Though Perez repeatedly told police that he did not have any alcohol, a passenger in the car said that he had at least two or three beers while at the billiards place. Officers said they saw one opened beer can with liquid inside it by the front driver’s seat in the car and two more on the back floorboard. In total, they said they found twenty-four cans of beer in the car that were “cold to the touch.”
Police said Perez was asked to take routine sobriety tests and failed. According to officials, he was asked to walk an imaginary straight line, but he said he would rather use a curved oil spill in the road. Police added that he stepped off the line, used his arms to balance himself, and turned in an improper manner.
He also refused to take a breath test. It is unclear whether he accepted or rejected a blood draw.
Police took him into custody after an officer obtained a search warrant. They took him to Parkland Hospital to have his blood drawn. The result of the test is not known.
Perez was then taken to the Dallas County jail. According to the Dallas Police Department’s Executive Assistant Chief Albert Martinez, he was booked into jail at about 2 a.m. It was at the jail that he had a “medical emergency” and was taken to another hospital.
Martinez said that officers took Perez to the jail, filed an arrest report for a misdemeanor charge, and left. Before police officers left at about 6 a.m., there were no indications of any further medical issues, according to Martinez. Two and a half hours later, the sheriff’s office called the department to say Perez had experienced a medical emergency.
Per a police report, the sheriff’s office told police officers that Perez died at Parkland Hospital on Monday, July 18, at about 7:30 a.m.
Information about the medical emergency has not been provided, as the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department has not provided details on the circumstances surrounding the situation. It is also unclear how long Perez had been in the jail before the medical emergency occurred.
Dallas police are saying Perez’s custody had already been passed to the sheriff’s office at the time of his death. According to Dallas Police Spokeswoman Kristin Lowman, Perez had not been arraigned on the DWI charge he was arrested for, and he was released from custody on July 17 after the reported emergency.
Lowman added that the district attorney’s office had asked the sheriff’s department to investigate the death. She further said that the police officers who arrested Perez are in the clear and not under investigation.
“The finger pointing is difficult for me to comprehend,” Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said in a written statement that asks for the facts surrounding the incident to be considered carefully. “Regardless of the contract language… how is an individual cleared by jail medical staff, accepted into the [county] jail, then held without Dallas Police officers present, all told for more than six hours, considered to be in our physical custody?”
The sheriff’s department, on the other hand, said Perez was in the custody of the Dallas Police Department even though he was at the jail run by the sheriff’s department. “The inmate at the jail that belonged to Dallas Police Department suffered a medical episode while at the jail and was transported to Parkland Hospital by ambulance,” the sheriff’s department said in a written statement.
The sheriff’s department added that the district attorney’s office is tasked with investigating the Dallas Police Department’s in-custody deaths.
Commissioner John Wiley Price, who serves as chairman of the Jail Population Committee, told the Dallas Morning News that it looks like Perez was in the sheriff’s department’s custody. “It clearly sounds as though he was in our custody,” he said.
Price, however, added that more than the issue of custody, he wants to know the circumstances surrounding the incident. “But regardless of whose custody he was in, the death needs to be investigated,” he said.