Galveston County Sergeant Used Excessive Force
(TX) – Sgt. Jonathan Wuneburger turned himself in to the county jail on June 25. Wuneburger had been on administrative leave while a criminal investigation was being conducted. The criminal investigation was determining if Wuneburger was reckless when dealing with inmate Ariel Ledesma. They use the term ‘reckless’ which, in this case, is just another way of saying excessive force.
On November 24, 2020, Ariel Ledesma was in the Galveston County Jail for Criminal Trespass, a misdemeanor. The Sheriff’s Office is not releasing information on what happened. The only reason we there are some details is because Jail Standards requires a report on in-custody deaths. Those reports are subject to open records requests. However, there can easily be bias in the reports.
The death report claims Ledesma attempted to leave his jail cell while its door was being closed. Wuneburger pushed Ledesma out of the doorway, causing him to fall backwards and hit his head.
Ledesma was taken to the hospital where he remained for two weeks before he died.
Grand Jury Issues Criminal Indictment
The report the Galveston County Jail generated for jail standards is probably soft-peddling what happened. Law enforcement agencies don’t normally rush to file charges against one of their own. The criminal investigation was conducted by both the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers. They felt there was sufficient cause to send their findings to the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury felt there was enough to charge Wuneburger with Manslaughter.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Likely
Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset declined to say Friday whether the sheriff’s office stood by the initial report about Ledesma’s death. Trochesset cited the criminal case and potential civil cases against the county as the reason for declining to comment.
Police violence is in the news constantly. We know it happens. The criminal investigation may have uncovered more abuse than what was stated. If so, they are going to stall as much as possible before giving information to a civil rights attorney. But they can’t stall forever. It does appear to be a wrongful death. Civil lawsuits will be coming.
Sergeant Jonathan Wuneburger
A bail bond of $40,000 was listed on the warrant for Jonathan Wuneburger. The charge was Manslaughter, a second-degree felony. Wuneburger immediately posted bond and was booked in and out on Friday. He was then fired from the Sheriff’s Office. If convicted he could face 2 – 20 years in prison.