A 31-year-old man died in Harris County Jail earlier this month — marking the third person to die while in custody this year and prompting community members to demand the Houston Police Department expedite evidence processing in order to alleviate overcrowding in the jail.
Rajdeep Singh Bains, 41, was booked into Harris County Jail on Dec. 3 for allegedly choking a family member, according to court records. On Jan. 4, 2023, Bains was brought to Memorial Hermann Hospital “for altered mental status,” according to his death report.
On Jan. 11, a neurological test determined he had no brain activity. Bains was pronounced at 3:18 p.m. that same day.
Bains is the third person to die while in custody this year. His death comes after at least 27 people died while in custody last year — the highest number in nearly two decades, according to county records and data from Texas Justice Initiative.
During a press conference on Tuesday at City Hall, Attorney Randall Kallinen accused HPD of worsening delays in the county’s already backed up criminal court system, which critics say has led to worsening conditions within the jail.
“They are not getting the video evidence into the criminal justice system in a timely manner,” Kallinen said. “It’s leading to overcrowding in the Harris County Jail, which leads to unsafe conditions causing injuries and deaths.”
Kallinen added that delays may lead to innocent people needlessly sitting in jail as they wait for evidence to be processed.
As of Monday, there were 10,054 people in the jail, according to the Harris County Jail dashboard.
Kallinen was joined by the parents of Evan Lee, who died while in custody in March 2022. Lee’s death was ruled a homicide in December — nearly 10 months after he died.
“We are losing our family members and the community is affected,” said Jacilet Griffin, Lee’s mother. “If they’re able to release the video cameras, any evidential information for court process … the inmates are able to get out sooner, and that would not cause a backup and a backlog on their inmate numbers.”
Kallinen was also joined by the family of Adael Gonzalez Garcia, who is currently in a coma after an incident with a detention officer in November. They said they were given little-to-no answers regarding what happened to Garcia and demanded officials release video of the incident.
“All we want is for that evidence that we have not yet received to be provided to us in a timely manner,” said, Marisol Tobar, the daughter of Garcia’s girlfriend. “If we can please get that evidence out, not just for us, for everybody who’s just waiting there innocently.”