Sgt. James Brown served two tours of duty in Iraq, and made it out alive.
However, Brown died in July 2012 during a two-day DWI jail sentence in the El Paso County Jail in Texas.
KFOX14 recently aired a video (below) filmed by a prison guard that captured Brown's last moments. KFOX14 was only able to air the video after legal wrangling that went all the way up to the Texas attorney general.
Brown, 26, started bleeding while in his jail cell and didn't respond to the jail guard.
Democracy Now! notes that a group of jail guards, dressed in riot gear, stormed into his cell and swarmed over Brown who told them repeatedly that he could not breathe (video below).
The guards tried to make Brown walk out of the cell, but he collapsed. Instead of placing Brown on a stretcher, the guards carried him above their heads as one would do during a rock concert.
The guards took Brown to the jail infirmary where a mask was placed over his head, even though he told the guards and jail personnel at least 20 times that he could not breathe.
The jail infirmary reportedly gave Brown a sedative, Lorazepam, which is given to treat anxiety, not the inability to breathe.
Brown was then placed naked in a jail cell where his breathing was shallow and struggled.
The Brown family's attorneys claim an ambulance was never called. Brown was eventually taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
When he checked into the jail to serve his short sentence, Brown informed the jail in writing that he had post-traumatic stress.
Brown's mother Dinette Robinson-Scott told KFOX14, "He said they're trying to make me stay seven days instead of two days, so I just want to pay the court fine and get out of here."
Robinson-Scott sent money to pay for her son's jail fine, but he was still not released.
“When a 26-year-old active military person checks into jail for a court imposed sentence on a Friday, and he leaves Sunday, you know, in a casket, something went horribly wrong there," Brown family attorney B.J. Crow told KFOX14.
Toxicology tests showed no illegal drugs in Brown's body, but an autopsy said that he died of natural causes stemming from a sickle cell crisis.
The El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles issued a statement:
Mr. Brown's death was an unfortunate tragedy. The sheriff's office has conducted a thorough review of the facts surrounding Mr. Brown's death and, based upon all the evidence obtained, determined that his death was caused by a pre-existing medical condition. The specific evidence cannot be discussed because of pending litigation.
However, that may not be the end of the story. A sickle cell crisis incident can be started by dehydration and stress.
In the video, Brown begged for water. He received half a dixie-cup of water from the guards, which he had to bargain for.
Crow added, “He was bleeding out the ears, the nose, the mouth, his kidneys shut down, his blood pressure dropped to a very dangerous level, and his liver shut down.”
Brown’s family is suing El Paso County for violating his Constitutional rights. The case will go to trial in October.