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Tarrant County Jailers Charged With Murder After Inmate Dies In Custody

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Two corrections officers in Tarrant County, Texas, have been indicted for murder in the death of an inmate, Anthony Johnson Jr.

Johnson had been involved in a struggle as a routine check of his cell for contraband took place on April 21.

As the struggle ensued, a recording depicted Rafael Moreno Jr. with his knee on Johnson’s back for over a minute after he had already been pepper sprayed and restrained.

“I can’t breathe,” 31-year-old Johnson, a Marine veteran, could be overheard saying in the recording.

The person who was the supervisor back then, Lt. Joel Garcia, had recorded the occurrence on his phone.

The Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office stated that Johnson’s death was a homicide, citing mechanical and chemical asphyxia as his cause of death.

In addition to that, methamphetamine was also said to have been a contributing factor in Johnson’s death.

On June 25, an indictment was filed for both Moreno and Garcia for murder by a Tarrant County Grand Jury.

“The indictment of Rafael Moreno, Jr. and Joel Garcia is an appropriate step in the right direction considering what we all saw in the video revealing Anthony Johnson Jr.’s last moments of life. Anthony’s family and community members have been anticipating this day to arrive. But, it is only one piece of the puzzle. The unfortunate reality is that there are even more people in the video who need to be held accountable for what they did or did not do,” stated Lawyer Daryl K. Washington on behalf of the Johnson family.

Moreno and Garcia were terminated after the incident. However, they were then reinstated because of improper protocol with their firings. Both officers will stay on administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing.

For now, both of their cases will go to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

It is reported that 63 inmates have died while being in custody at the Tarrant County Jail since 2017. This is more than the national average.

In May, the head of the jail, Chief Charles Eckert, retired as the controversy was at an all-time high.



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