Video obtained by ProPublica shows that the death of a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant in Customs and Border Protection custody differed from the account that the agency gave the public. Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez died in May at a Texas border patrol station after being diagnosed with the flu. At the time, CBP acting Commissioner John Sanders said border agents found Vasquez dead during a “welfare check.” However, footage CBP provided to Weslaco Police Department shows Vasquez writhing in his cell for about 25 minutes, vomiting blood, and staggering to the toilet before he stopped moving. The footage also shows his cellmate alerting officials to help Vasquez after he found him on the floor four hours later. Police photos indicate that Vasquez had a pool of blood around his head at the time of his death.
A Border Patrol “subject activity log” said agents checked in on him three times after he ceased moving near the toilet, but the video reportedly has a four-hour gap when the checks were supposed to have occurred. Vasquez’s autopsy report also does not say how long Carlos had been dead before he was found, but his body was reportedly stiff with rigor mortis when officials attempted to revive him. The DHS inspector general has been investigating Vasquez’s death, but has not released any conclusions. CBP also didn’t respond to questions about the video’s four-hour gap. While the death prompted changes in how Border Patrol agents check on sick detainees, then-acting Commissioner Sanders resigned soon after the incident. “I believe the U.S. government could have done more,” he said. “Carlos’ death will follow me for the rest of my life.”