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Families suing Harris County Jail over claims their loved ones were beaten to death in custody

Attorney Ben Crump is representing 15 families who claim their loved ones died after being beaten inside the jail.

HOUSTON — A Houston civil rights attorney and his team are filing a lawsuit against the Harris County Jail on behalf of families who say their loved ones were beaten to death while in custody.

Attorney Ben Crump spoke on Saturday about the lawsuit, alongside lawmakers and the parents of a man who died at the jail last year. They said there have been too many deaths at the jail and not enough accountability.

Evan Lee, a 31-year-old inmate at the Harris County Jail, died on March 22, 2022. Crump, attorney Paul Grinke and Lee's family claim he was beaten by corrections officers.

Lee is just one of 27 inmates who died in the jail last year. According to Crump and Grinke, six people have already died in the Harris County Jail in 2023.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office said Lee told jail staff he had symptoms described as possible food poisoning just four days before his death.

His mother, Jacilet Lee, said it's been 430 days since her son died and she's still waiting for the autopsy results. She now advocates for other families who've lost loved ones in similar ways.

"There is no closure. I can't move to any closure as of today," she said. "That's totally unfair and it's not acceptable. And I continue my fight to get answers."

Crump is representing 15 families who claim their loved ones died after being beaten inside the jail. They're working alongside lawmakers like Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Rep. Ron Reynolds to push for legislation that would greenlight a study of the living and safety conditions at the Harris County Jail.

"It's not just Evan whose tragic death we need answers for," Crump said. "How many more individuals have to die in the Harris County Jail before we say enough is enough."

The Texas Rangers have conducted their investigation into Lee's death and filed their report with the Harris County District Attorney's Office. They said the autopsy results will not be released unless charges are filed in the case.

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