Inmate's family: Indictments against jailers not enough

The family of the man who died in an Arlington jail cell says two jailers' indictments are not enough, and information from the indictment sheds new light on the death of Jonathan Paul.

Paul’s family says the two indictments are a major step in the right direction, but it feels more officers should face indictment.

"He didn't deserve to die this way,” said Marvin Phillips, Paul’s uncle. “He didn't deserve to be treated inhumanely."

The family, aligned with the NAACP admits that the charge of negligent homicide, punishable by up to two years in prison, is not enough.

"Jonathan Paul was guilty of nothing,” said Alisa Simmons with the Arlington NAACP. “Nothing that should have resulted in his death, his murder."

Two jailers, Steven Schmidt and Pedro Medina, are charged.

Schmidt retired last month, and Medina is on administrative leave with pay.

The jailers’ attorney released a statement, saying, "Every officer involved, including Pedro and Steve, acted completely within the training and accepted practices of the Arlington Police Department."

Paul died March 13, four days after his arrest for traffic tickets. The video shows him in a state police describe as agitated and "non-compliant” after flooding a cell by putting his pants in the toilet.

Paul was pepper sprayed, restrained and can be heard coughing in a video from the jail. Later, he was moved to another cell and left on the floor.

The indictments for both Schmidt and Medina state that both caused his death "by physically restraining Paul in a position that interfered with his breathing” and "by excessively spraying Paul with pepper spray..." And then, "by failing to render medical assistance…and failing to summon medical assistance."

“When someone is taken into custody, it’s still our primary role and responsibility to ensure that nothing happens to them,” said Lt. Chris Cook with the Arlington Police Department.

Arlington police say that beyond the two indictments, an internal investigation continues to consider possible disciplinary action for each staff member in the video, and that some departmental changes are already in place.

“One of the changes we've already made is when an inmate tries to flood a cell, there's now shut-off valves on the outside of the cells, so jailers now would not have to enter a cell to try to remove someone to prevent them from flooding their cell,” said Cook.

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