Video shows moments leading up to death of El Paso County jail inmate
Eight months after an inmate died at the El Paso County jail, the investigation of his death has wrapped up. Video obtained by 11 News shows what happened in the moments leading up to his demise.
Colorado Springs police sent a release May 11 stating he died from heroin and methamphetamine intoxication associated with necessary physical restraint by law enforcement. The investigation also revealed no criminal charges will be filed for the case.
The inmate was Colorado Springs resident, 40-year-old Eliezer Tirado-Ortiz. Ortiz died on Sept. 7, 2017, following his arrest at the Executive Towers at 2864 S. Circle Drive. Ortiz was arrested for possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia soon after El Paso County sheriff's deputies were called to that location on the report of a disturbance.
Before his arrest, officers said he was acting erratically and reportedly punched the elevator, various doors and was throwing items in the parking lot. Once in the patrol car, police said he was hitting his head against the window and sweating heavily.
Ortiz was taken to the Criminal Justice Center. Not long after he was transported, he became unresponsive and died despite medical intervention.
Prior to his death, deputies requested a nurse to meet him upon his arrival to the jail. He was escorted by deputies with a nurse by his side into a temporary holding cell when he refused to move on his own. According to police, once he got there, he was speaking rapidly about several things including heroin and methamphetamines.
While in the cell, Ortiz continued to act non-compliant. Police said he was placed on his stomach while deputies restrained him. They had to use hand and knee strikes to put a "spit" sock over his face and to get him clothed in a safety gown which prevents self-harm.
Just more than 10 minutes after deputies first entered the cell with Ortiz, they left the cell after putting him on his side, which is considered a recovery position. They went back inside one minute later after Ortiz rolled back on his stomach and appeared unresponsive. Jail nursing staff and AMR response personnel all jumped in to help Ortiz, including the use of Narcan which is a nasal spray used to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose. He was unable to be revived and was pronounced dead.
An autopsy later confirmed his cause of death, still labeling it as a homicide because it was associated with the physical restraint by law enforcement. The forensic pathologist noted that homicide means death at the hands of another person, but does not imply wrongdoing or criminal intent.
The investigation was eventually passed on to the Tenth Judicial District Attorney’s Office to follow up on any possible criminal charges. They determined that there will be no prosecution of any law enforcement officers, personnel or medical staff and that his death was a tragic event precipitated by the use of heroin and methamphetamines.