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El Paso County jail death remains a mystery

September 12, 2017 Updated: September 13, 2017 at 7:40 am
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photo - Photo courtesy of Julianna Kimpton, a childhood friend of Eliezer Tirado Ortiz, 40, who died in El Paso County jail.
Photo courtesy of Julianna Kimpton, a childhood friend of Eliezer Tirado Ortiz, 40, who died in El Paso County jail. 

Eliezer Tirado Ortiz, 40, died in custody shortly after he was arrested Sept. 7 on suspicion of possession of illegal narcotics, Colorado Springs police announced Tuesday.

El Paso County sheriff's deputies went to the Executive Towers at 2864 S. Circle Drive for a disturbance and ended up arresting the Colorado Springs man.

He was taken to the county jail, but "shortly after his arrival ... became unresponsive and died despite medical intervention," police said.

Police Lt. Howard Black wouldn't say how Oritz died, citing a pending toxicology report.

He said nothing suggests any wrongdoing by a Sheriff's Office staff member.

He earlier told The Gazette that Ortiz's death was officer-involved, and police were investigating it "in accordance with Colorado Revised Statute 16-2.5-301," which requires a neutral agency to investigate "the discharge of a firearm by a peace officer that resulted in injury or death."

Tuesday, Black said no shots were fired, but he wouldn't elaborate.

Enfren Tirado said police hadn't explained the circumstances of his brother's death. Tirado was traveling to Colorado Springs to talk to authorities and try to learn more. He spoke to The Gazette in Spanish, describing Ortiz as a hard worker.

Ortiz was from San Germán, Puerto Rico, and moved to Colorado Springs in March 2015, said friend Julianna Kimpton. She said they met when she was 3 and he was 5.

"He was hard-working and kind, and the family feels broken and lost at this time," Kimpton said. "He loved salsa music and his son (age 20) above anything else in this world. ... He had a laugh that would carry across a room and energy that was just contagious. He loved his family and worked so hard to be better for them."

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