Customs and Border Protection officials claimed that it was an agent who found the body of a 16-year-old boy who died under their watch this past May, but new surveillance video obtained by ProPublica shows that’s a lie: it was the child’s cellmate, another young boy, who found the body and alerted staff.
In fact, the video continues to further confirm that Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez didn’t get the urgent attention he needed after developing a 103-degree fever while in custody in Texas. He was prescribed Tamiflu, but the video shows “that Border Patrol agents and health care workers at the Weslaco holding facility missed increasingly obvious signs that his condition was perilous,” according to ProPublica. For one, officials’ “subject activity log” doesn’t match up with what video is known to exist.
A 16-yr-old boy died in Border Patrol custody. He had the flu
They didn’t take him to the hospital
They didn’t release him
They didn’t even seem to check on him as he was dying on the floor of his cell, contrary to the govt’s account
We have the videohttps://t.co/DE0BDzyviI
— Eric Umansky (@ericuman) December 5, 2019
“An agent checked on him three times during the early morning hours in which he slipped from unconsciousness to death, but reported nothing alarming about the boy,” ProPublica said. “The video shows the only way CBP officials could have missed Carlos’ crisis is that they weren’t looking.” In the video, Carlos can be seen writhing in agony, finally stumbling to the toilet, where he dies. His cellmate, who was wrapped in a foil blanket and asleep, wakes up and finds his body. Only when he alerted staff does an agent finally appear on video.
“The video and other records reviewed by ProPublica document numerous missteps in the days leading up to Carlos’ final hours on the floor of Cell 199,” the report continues. “Independent medical experts pointed in particular to the decision to send a 16-year-old suffering from the flu to a holding cell rather than a hospital as a pivotal mistake.” Border officials had already put Carlos’ health in harm’s way before this: kids aren’t supposed to be in Border Patrol custody for more than three days, but he was kept in custody for nearly a week.
In July, a medical report concluded that the boy, who was just weeks away from turning 17, died from flu complicated by pneumonia and sepsis. A boy in his condition should have been rushed to a hospital right away, not thrown into a cold border cell. “A veteran forensic pathologist who reviewed Hernandez’s autopsy, as well as the three other autopsies available for migrant children who died in custody, said she was alarmed at the conditions the children were kept in,” Texas Monthly reported.
What’s also alarming is that we are being lied to about the deaths of kids under U.S. watch. “We now know that CBP lied about Carlos Vasquez’s death—CBP failed to provide critically necessary medical care and failed to notice his death until his cellmate discovered his body,” the Congressional Hispanic Caucus tweeted. “This is criminal negligence,” the group continued, saying members “will demand answers and accountability from CBP.”