United Kingdom

Texas father dies when his neck is broken by officers during a violent arrest

The family of a man who died after his neck was broken during a violent arrest in Texas are suing the authorities in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Jorge Gonzalez Zuniga, a 23-year-old father and husband, was celebrating Easter at a BBQ with friends in Hidalgo County on April 11.

At some point during the celebration Zuniga fell asleep in his friend's yard. Police who were patrolling the area saw Zuniga, woke him up and told him to go home.

During the arrest, Zuniga was pepper sprayed, tased multiple times, pushed to the ground, had his neck crushed, and was handcuffed and placed in ankle restraints.

After being booked and his mugshot was taken - with cops holding up his head -  Zuniga was found unresponsive in his cell and had a severe cervical fracture, a swollen spinal cord and was paralyzed. 

He died in the hospital in July and now his family is seeking justice. 

Jorge Gonzalez Zuniga, a 23-year-old father and husband, died after his neck was broken during a violent arrest on April 11 in Texas

Mugshots taken afterwards reveal that he was unable to hold up his own head and substantial swelling is clearly visible in a side profile image

He was taken to the hospital where doctors found he had a severe cervical fracture, a swollen spinal cord and was a quadriplegic. The prosecution alleges he was 'pushed to the ground, had his neck crushed, was handcuffed and placed in ankle restraints'

'Mr. Zuniga followed their commands and started to go home' but officers then decided to arrest him for public intoxication and disobeying COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, two minor, non-violent misdemeanors that were both later dismissed, according to the legal complaint filed by attorneys representing Mr. Zuniga's bereaved mother, wife and baby son,' the prosecution states. 

According to a statement from the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office: 'Mr. Zuniga refused to cooperate and became physically agitated, verbally abusive, and strongly resisted efforts to be taken into custody.'

During the course of the arrest, Zuniga was pepper sprayed and tased multiple times.

The prosecution alleges he was 'pushed to the ground, had his neck crushed, was handcuffed and placed in ankle restraints.

'At one point he was intentionally tripped and when he would not get up while still fully shackled, he was tased.'

After the violent arrest, Zuniga was placed in the patrol car and transported to the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center.

Mugshots taken afterwards reveal that he was unable to hold up his own head and substantial swelling is clearly visible in a side profile image.

'Despite the obvious injuries, including a large swollen neck, cuts and contusions, the jail officials acted with deliberate indifference and at no time sent Mr. Zuniga for medical evaluation or treatment. Instead, he was thrown into the 'drunk tank' and left alone,' the legal complaint, filed by Thomas J. Henry Law, a personal injury attorney in Austin, Texas, says.

Jorge Zuniga's grieving wife Johana Zuniga said: 'My husband and I were parents of a one-year-old baby - my husband didn't deserve to be treated in such an unfair way. We only ask for justice because of the pain that my family and I feel will not be taken away'

Zuniga's sister spoke about her brother after announcing that she and her family are suing the authorities in a wrongful death lawsuit

'My husband was a hardworking man, and his son was his world for him. My son will not be able to know his dad, nor be able to call someone dad,' Zuniga's wife said, pictured with their son 

The lawsuit reads: 'Mr. Zuniga was left in his cell for over twenty-one hours without any medical attention.

'Finally…twenty-one hours after his booking, someone at the jail checked on him. He was found to be non-responsive.'

Zuniga was then taken to the McAllen Heart Hospital and then the McAllen Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with 'a severe cervical fracture, a swollen spinal cord and was a quadriplegic,' according to the lawsuit.

On July 15, Jorge Zuniga died from chronic respiratory failure following a heart attack.

Attorneys allege that his injuries and untimely death were due to the 'absolute deliberate and unconscionable indifference of the deputies and the jail staff.' 

Zuniga's grieving wife Johana Zuniga said: 'My husband and I were parents of a one-year-old baby - my husband didn't deserve to be treated in such an unfair way. We only ask for justice because of the pain that my family and I feel will not be taken away.

'My husband was a hardworking man, and his son was his world for him. My son will not be able to know his dad, nor be able to call someone dad.'

'They took my companion - the love of my life. I only ask for justice in the name of my husband which is what he deserves and what he asked for before he passed.'

His family is now suing authorities in a wrongful death lawsuit. A statement from the Sheriff's Office states: 'We are not in possession of the medical records required to confirm the cause of death.

A statement from the Sheriff's Office states: 'We are not in possession of the medical records required to confirm the cause of death.

'Any allegation that a citizen's rights have been violated is taken seriously and corrective action will be taken when justified.'

Thomas J. Henry, an attorney for Zuniga's family, said: 'The way they treated Jorge is utterly inhumane, his spinal injuries were so severe that he was unable to support his own head for the photograph, instead of seeking medical help they threw him in a cell.

'He was delivered to the hospital with a broken spinal cord.

'Bear in mind that no one made a complaint about Jorge on the day of the BBQ, he was sleeping in his friend's yard and this is what happened to him, an arrest, a broken neck, paralysis and death.

'His family are not doing well. They lost a husband, a son and a father. We intend to get justice for Jorge.'

Football news:

Hans-Dieter flick: I Hope Alaba will sign a contract with Bayern. Our club is one of the best in the world
Diego Maradona: Messi gave Barca everything, brought them to the top. He was not treated the way he deserved
Federico Chiesa: I hope to leave my mark in Juve. We will achieve great results
The Coach Of Benfica: I don't want us to look like the current Barcelona, it has nothing
Guardiola on returning to Barca: I'm happy at Manchester City. I hope to stay here
Fabinho will not play with West ham due to injury
Ronald Koeman: Maradona was the best in his time. Now the best Messi