UPDATE: Officers will not be charged in Delacruz death
A Jefferson County grand jury did not opt to indict three Port Arthur Police officers in the August death of Manuel Delacruz.
Delacruz, 26, of Port Arthur, died at The Medical Center of Southeast Texas on Aug. 1. His family had brought him to the hospital to get treatment for a mental condition. Police contend he refused to comply and began to struggle with officers and medical personnel. He died during the struggle.
Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham said that a grand jury met and made the decision Wednesday morning.
Lance Bradley, the attorney representing the three Port Arthur Police officers involved in the incident, released a statement about the grand jury’s decision.
“There is no indication the officers did wrong. It’s a very unfortunate situation,” Bradley said. “We are happy with the results of the grand jury and on behalf of the officers our sympathy goes out to the family.”
The officers involved include Sgt. Reid Rowe and officers Shannon Meaux and Lane Cherry.
Bradley said they were placed on administrative leave during the district attorney’s office investigation, which is standard procedure.
The Delacruz family is being represented by Chip Ferguson of The Ferguson Law Firm in Beaumont. Ferguson was not available for comment Wednesday afternoon.
An autopsy performed in Beaumont showed both cause of death and manner of death as undetermined. The autopsy also showed that Delacruz tested positive for a medication used for schizophrenia.
Delacruz was a natural born athlete, his family shared with The Port Arthur News during a visit shortly after his death. Growing up he was involved in Little League Baseball and soccer but it was boxing that gave him the most joy. He began boxing as a teenager and was a Golden Gloves champion where he took part in fights across the U.S.
Signs of his metal illness began to show in his late teens and what would have been a minor brush with the law back then led to his being jailed for public intoxication and to being Tased, his family said. This left him with a fear of police.
When family sought treatment for Delacruz he was “being rowdy” but not aggressive but without a mental health warrant the family opted for emergency room treatment.
The last time the family saw Delacruz alive he seemed fine and was sitting against the bed, family said.
The last thing Marco Antonio Delacruz, his father, saw a curtain being pulled closed around his son then a scuffle, he told The News in August.
According to a press release from PAPD, Delacruz struggled with officers and medical staff and went into “distress” necessitating immediate medical attention. He died at the hospital.
Mary Meaux: 409-721-2429