The family and attorney for Jerry Wayne Bridwell are looking for answers after Bridwell, an inmate at the Denton County Jail, died Monday after attempting to hang himself Sunday.
“It is extremely unfortunate that Jerry took his life while in the custody of law enforcement officials,” said Denton defense attorney Rick Hagen. “We are looking into what happened. His family is grieving. He had a tremendous family that loved and supported him, and right now we are looking for answers.”
Bridwell, 47, was in jail after a series of felony family violence assault charges, according to Hagen. After his November indictment, Bridwell was trying to raise money for bail out of jail on those charges, including one that was set at $100,000.
“I saw him last Thursday. We had a detailed conversation about the case, and I had no indication that this would happen when I saw him,” Hagen said.
A statement from Sandi Brackeen, spokeswoman for the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, said that “life-saving measures were instituted by jail medical [staff] and he was transported to Denton Regional Medical Center. He passed away after being released from custody. Investigation into the incident is ongoing.”
According to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, Bridwell’s time of death is listed as occurring at 9:49 p.m. on Monday.
Hagen said Bridwell had been on life support, but succumbed to injuries received in the suicide attempt.
Answers Hagen seeks include who was watching Bridwell, when was the last time someone checked on him and if he left a note.
Bridwell’s suicide occurred the day before a scheduled inspection of the Denton County Jail by an official from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. According to executive director Brandon Wood, the death will not impact the ongoing inspection.
“Any time there is a death in custody, the commission does a review to see if there are any violations and makes a determination after we are able to look at all the information,” he said.
Wood said the incident, tragic as it is, may not warrant any penalties.
Commission records of inmate deaths date to 2009, the date the commission gained the authority to investigate jail custodial deaths.
In that time, eight deaths have occurred in the Denton County Jail when the inmate was in custody. Six of the deaths were attributed to natural causes.
The last two were labeled as suicides, including Bridwell and Carl Chadwick Snell in March 2015.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjLewisDRC.