The family of a Port Arthur man is suing over his death at a local hospital. Manuel De La Cruz, 25, went to the hospital for help and died after a confrontation with police in the emergency room.
For the De La Cruz family, some of their fondest memories of Manuel, was when he was boxing, especially when he was 16. His sister, Patricia De La Cruz said he fought in Istanbul Turkey representing USA Olympics.
Manuel was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and just before his 26th birthday, he was suffering a particularly bad episode. His family took him to the Medical Center of Southeast Texas in August of 2016.
Ruth said, “My brother Manuel told me, ‘Take me home ‘cause the police are gonna kill me.’”
Manuel's brother Marco De La Cruz Jr. said they waited five to six hours before the staff would admit him.
The family says he was not violent, but would not disrobe to put on a hospital gown. So, Port Arthur Police intervened.
Attorney Joe House said during a media briefing, “Taking that boy’s pants off became worth using the force of the state until he was dead.”
The lawsuit alleges half a dozen officers, including a hospital security guard, piled on top of the 5'9", 268 lb. patient, choking and tasing him. Manuel did not move after that.
Patricia said, “They took him to the hospital to get help, not to come out in a coffin.”
The family is suing the City of Port Arthur, the Port Arthur Police Department and the Medical Center of Southeast Texas.
They allege Manuel was not treated properly, hospital staff was not properly trained and excessive force was used. All parties have declined comment because of the ongoing lawsuit.
The family wants changes and better education for those dealing with mentally ill patients.
As for the cause of death, the coroner for Beaumont/Jefferson counties ruled the cause as "undetermined".
Patricia said, “We'll have answers to how he died. Once you start digging, the truth will come out, that's why we're here.”
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