Transgender woman Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody after being held in a privately operated detention center was likely physically abused there, according to an autopsy report released Monday, and died after several days of severe, untreated dehydration.
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Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a Honduran trans asylum-seeker who was held at a correctional facility in New Mexico after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, died in an Albuquerque hospital in May of this year. The “preliminary cause” of Hernandez’s death was cardiac arrest, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement press release issued at the time. Now, a new autopsy report finds that Hernandez “endured physical assault and abuse while in custody,” according to a notice of wrongful death filed by the Transgender Law Center.
Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez, 33, a transgender woman from Honduras, died on May 25, nine days after being transferred to a dedicated unit for transgender women at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, which is operated under contract by CoreCivic, the second-largest private prison company in the United States.
“There she developed severe diarrhea and vomiting over the course of several days,” wrote forensic pathologist Kris Sperry, “and finally was emergently hospitalized, then transported to Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she remained critically ill until her death.”
The autopsy concluded that Hernández Rodriguez’s cause of death was most likely “severe complications of dehydration superimposed upon HIV infection,” which made her susceptible to the physiologic effects of untreated dehydration.
“According to observations of other detainees who were with Ms. Hernández Rodriguez, the diarrhea and vomiting episodes persisted over multiple days with no medical evaluation or treatment, until she was gravely ill,” Sperry wrote.
Sperry’s autopsy, the second conducted on Hernández Rodriguez’s body following her death, also found evidence of physical abuse, with “deep bruising” on her hands and abdomen, evidence of blunt-force trauma “indicative of blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes with blunt object.” An accompanying diagram illustrated long, thin bruises along Hernández Rodriguez’s back and sides, as well as extensive hemorrhaging on Hernández Rodriguez’s right and left wrists, which Dr. Sperry found were “typical of handcuff injuries.”
“That same report also found indications of physical trauma, that she may have been hit with a blunt-force object.” @nidhiprakash says ICE still hasn’t released the full story on the death of Roxsana Hernandez, a transgender detainee pic.twitter.com/pvljNoOEyf
— AM2DM by BuzzFeed News (@AM2DM) December 6, 2018