Inmate at Bexar County Jail Murdered
(TX) – It’s not common for inmates in county jails to get murdered by another inmate. That’s something that happens a little more often in state prisons. Sheriff Javier Salazar hasn’t completed his fifth year in office and there have already been two inmate on inmate murders.
On Saturday, 66-year old Curtis Raymond Smith was found unresponsive on the floor of his cell. At the time, he was still in the Booking area of the Bexar County Jail. It was discovered that Mr. Smith had a papers and a sock shoved down his throat. There were also red marks on his neck.
53-year old Mark Anthony Wong admitted to choking Smith, claiming he feared Smith was going to sexually assault him. Both men suffered from mental illness.
What You’re Not Hearing
Booking has a lot of officers walking around, unlike the living units. How is it that no one saw the fight and took steps to stop it? The cells in Booking have windows on them. When something happens, officers put magnetic covers over the windows so inmates in other cells don’t get riled up.
My sources tell me that supposedly someone in the cell may have been exposing himself. The magnetic cover was placed over the window. That means deputies would not be able to see at a glance what was happening in the cell. Medical would have noted that the inmates had mental health issues. The officers would have known their condition and housed them with that information in mind. Supposedly the checks were done. But did the officer checking actually remove the magnetic cover and look into the cell? A cell with known mentally ill individuals? We’ll only know for sure after the camera footage is reviewed and if the information is released.
My sources also tell me that once Mr. Smith was discovered, the other three individuals were moved to different cells. That included Mr. Wong. It would have been standard to move them so personnel would have room to work on Mr. Smith. However, once in a new location, Mr. Wong supposedly attacked another inmate. The timing is suspect. It’s possible that the second attack came after they realized Mr. Wong was the culprit. If that turns out to be the case, they should have isolated Mr. Wong immediately. Not doing so makes them responsible for the second attack.
The Murder of Alexander Wise
In May of 2019, barely over two years ago, the Classification section at the Bexar County Jail made a deadly mistake. They placed two individuals in a cell together who should never have been in the same cell. One was Alexander Wise. He was a white male with a swastika tattoo and suspected white supremacist ties. Wise was in jail on non-violent charges.
The other person, who was already assigned to the cell, was Shandrick Van Anthony Buckley. Buckley, who is a Black male, was in jail on a murder charge. Just days before he attacked Wise, he had assaulted a detention guard. He was known and recognized as a violent individual.
“Salazar said Wise had been moved into the cell with Buckley in that area of the jail after he had been involved in a violent disturbance with other inmates earlier that day.” But Salazar does not state what the violent disturbance was or Wise’s part in it.
Alexander Wise was found when a deputy noticed blood seeping out from under the cell door. Shandrick Buckley had stomped Wise to death then returned to his bunk and gone back to sleep.
A Jail Reeling from Incompetence
Sheriff can’t keep competent people on staff. When you lose such a high amount of your own hires, his chiefs, you have to realize the problem is you, not them. Salazar hired Jaime Rios for a vacant chief position. Rios had been over jail operations at Maverick County jail. The Maverick County Jail has a maximum capacity of 235 inmates. The Bexar County jail’s maximum capacity is 4,563 inmates. Rios had no experience in dealing with a jail the size of Bexar County’s jail.
Immediately problems arose in regards to the close relationship between the jail inspector, Jennifer Shumake, and Chief Rios. Jail Standards denied it was an issue, but suddenly the jail started passing inspections.
A couple of months ago Salazar hired Jennifer Shumake to fill one of the vacant chief positions. I haven’t been able to find anything on her other than working for Texas Jail Standards. If she worked at a jail before, was it another tiny little nothing jail like Rios? Book knowledge is not the same as practical experience.
Jail Standards should be investigating the latest death at the Bexar County jail (Bexar County Adult Detention Center). They do investigate deaths, but they also need to conduct a jail inspection. What they will find is a jail out of compliance. Salazar has an “expert” on staff and yet the situation is worse than ever. Yes, officers are out sick due to COVID, but Salazar’s poor decisions have added to the loss of staff. Staffing requirements are not being met. And when they’re not met, other things start falling by the wayside also.
One has to wonder if the insufficient staffing and overworked and exhausted officers were contributing factors in the latest murder within the jail.