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ICE Lost Video Footage of Trans Woman Who Died in Custody

by Sam Cronin
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Oct 25, 2019
Roxsana Hernandez
Roxsana Hernandez  (Source:Transgender Law Center)

Lawyers representing the late Roxsana Hernandez, a Honduran transgender immigrant who died in ICE custody in 2018, have alleged that surveillance footage of her in custody may have been deleted. While the investigation into her death is ongoing, Cibola County Correctional Center, the privately run ICE detention facility in which she was held, was told to preserve any pertinent video evidence.

An Albuquerque-based ICE official responded, according to CNN, saying:
"The requested video is no longer available. The footage is held in memory up to around 90 days. They attempted to locate and was negative."

Attorneys representing Hernandez's family filed a wrongful death claim in November of 2018, according to CNN.

A lawsuit was also filed against CoreCivic, the company which owns Cibola, asking a judge to mandate video and evidence related to Hernandez's death be released.

"They were on notice to preserve any and all video surveillance and it seems they may have failed to do so," attorney Andrew Free said in a statement released by the Transgender Law Center. "We filed suit because we have reason to believe they may be withholding more evidence. The public has the right to know what happened to people who die in the custody of the US government and CoreCivic is not above the law."

CoreCivic spokesperson Amanda Gilchrist said that video footage was not preserved because the company didn't receive notice that Hernandez's family was considering a lawsuit until November.

By that point, Gilchrist said to CNN, "whatever digital images that might have existed had been long overwritten."

EDGE previously reported on Hernandez's death, including the fact that three senators have requested death reports from Cibola back in December. Those reports were released by the Transgender Law Center, CNN reports.

ICE's "Detainee Death Review" for Hernandez, points to "various discrepancies in the medical treatment Roxsana received and immigration enforcement's internal protocols," The law center said in a statement.

One key finding was that Hernandez did not receive needed HIV treatment while in ICE custody.

"Roxsana needed medical care and yet she was cleared to be incarcerated. At numerous times throughout her days in immigration enforcement custody, the people she was detained with pleaded for her to receive medical care," Lynly Egyes, the law center's legal director, said in a statement.

In response, Gilchrist went on to say in a statement for CoreCivic that Hernandez was detained at Cibola for only 12 hours.

"Roxsana Hernandez came to Cibola County Correctional Center in May 2018 gravely ill," Gilchrist said. "When she arrived, she went through the intake process which includes a medical evaluation. The medical team made the determination that she needed to be immediately transported to an outside hospital."

"Her death was entirely preventable," however, said Lynly Egyes, director of litigation for the Transgender Law Center, in a statement in November to CNN.

The investigation into Hernandez's death is still ongoing, despite the loss of video footage.

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