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Family seeks justice after father’s death in Pasadena’s jail

Ten months after a Pasadena man died after breaking his leg in the city’s jail, his daughter is demanding answers.

“I just want justice,” said Dana Oswald, whose father, Mark Oswald, 63, died in June. “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.” 

Oswald and her sister, Tania Oswald, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Monday in the  death of their father, who had been arrested on public intoxication charges and then slipped and fell in his cell.

“You see him fall, you see his leg go back, you see the foot facing the wrong way,” said Mary Martin, one of the lawyers representing the sisters, citing video the Pasadena Police Department had shown them but which has not been released publicly.

“The worst part of it, is that after he broke his femur, they let him sit there on the ground, in his own filth, writhing and screaming and begging for help, saying over and over, ‘Please, please please,’ ” said Charles Peckham, another Oswald family lawyer. “And they did nothing.”

Jail and emergency medical staff took Oswald to St. Luke’s Medical Center hours later, the lawsuit stated. From there, Oswald was flown to Memorial Hermann Hospital, and died four days later from internal bleeding and other complications, Peckham said.

“It’s pretty horrific, because he was in there for public intoxication,” Martin said. “It’s like getting arrested for a traffic ticket and they let you die.”

A Pasadena Police Department spokesman referred questions to Bill Helfand, who is representing the department.

“The city has constitutional policies that relate to care and treatment in its lockup facility and the city has no doubt evidence will demonstrate policies are constitutional,” he said, declining to discuss the specifics of the case.

The lawsuit comes just a day after another lawsuit charged mistreatment of an inmate who died in the custody of Harris County jailers last March.

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