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No charges in 2017 death of El Paso County jail inmate attributed to heroin, meth

May 11, 2018 Updated: May 11, 2018 at 8:25 pm
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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. 

The death of a 40-year old man at the El Paso County jail Sept. 7 was "a tragic event precipitated by the use of heroin and methamphetamines," Colorado Springs police said Friday.

Eliezer Tirado-Ortiz's death was investigated by the Colorado Springs Police Department at the request of Sheriff Bill Elder, a news release says.

According to a summary of the investigation released Friday:

A disturbance was reported shortly before 11 a.m. at the Executive Towers, 2864 S. Circle Drive, where deputies found Tirado-Ortiz, who, they were told, had been "acting erratically." He reportedly had punched doors and an elevator and thrown things in the parking lot.

Deputies detained Tirado-Ortiz, who "began banging his head against the window, was sweating heavily, and was generally behaving in a hyper-active manner" after being placed in a patrol car. The deputies suspected he was under the influence of drugs and asked him about his "drug of choice." He "replied that it was heroin" and was found to be in possession of a small amount of heroin and drug paraphernalia.

He was arrested on suspicion of possession of a Schedule I narcotic, a felony.

While in the patrol car, Tirado-Ortiz "spoke very rapidly," mentioning heroin and methamphetamines. After arriving at the jail, the deputies asked for a jail nurse to come out to the patrol car.

The nurse was there when Tirado-Ortiz "was taken from the vehicle and escorted by deputies into the facility after he refused to move on his own." He was placed in a temporary holding cell.

In the cell, Tirado-Ortiz "continued screaming at the deputies and was noncompliant with their attempts to conduct a pat-down search of him." He was placed on his stomach, and additional deputies entered the cell. The deputies used "hand and knee strikes" as they tried to place a "spit sock" over his face and replace his clothing with a safety gown.

A spit sock is a hood made of breathable material used to prevent the transfer of diseases from spitting and biting. A safety gown is clothing which inhibits acts of self-harm and is used as a suicide prevention tool.

While the deputies continued their efforts to restrain Tirado-Ortiz, the nurse then entered the cell to check his leg restraints and pulse.

About 10½ minutes after the deputies entered the cell with Tirado-Ortiz, they rolled him onto his side and left. He then rolled back onto his stomach and became unresponsive.

About a minute later, deputies re-entered the cell to help Tirado-Ortiz. They were helped by jail nurses and ambulance personnel. CPR was used as well as Narcan, an emergency treatment for opioid overdoses.

The medical personnel couldn't revive Tirado-Ortiz, and he was pronounced dead. The attending forensic pathologist at the Coroner's Office determined that his cause of death was "the result of heroin and methamphetamine intoxication associated with necessary physical restraint by law enforcement."

His death was ruled a homicide, "based on the recommendation by the National Association of Medical Examiners concerning deaths associated with physical restraint by law enforcement," the release says.

The Coroner's Office was unable to make a staff member available Friday to answer questions about the cause of death.

The investigation was forwarded to the 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office in Pueblo, which determined that "evidence does not exist to prosecute any of the involved law enforcement officers, law enforcement personnel, and/or medical staff," the release says. The 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office, which represents El Paso and Teller counties, asked that another DA's Office handle the case because an uninvolved member of their staff has a relative who works at the jail.

"Most of the interaction" between Tirado-Ortiz and the jail staff was captured by cameras in the sally port vehicle area and within the booking area, the release says.

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Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198

Twitter: @lemarie

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