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Detention officers arrested after false reports, inmate's death

Two El Paso detention officers are under investigation after falsifying cell check logs on the same day an inmate died.

Two El Paso County detention officers under investigation are accused of making false statements linked to a death.

An inmate at the El Paso County Jail Annex died while two officers were on duty, according to the officers' arrest affidavit.

Texas Commission on Jail Standards confirmed an inmate death on Sept. 16.

Mathew Garrett McBain and Dorian Lautret were arrested on Sept. 26 on suspicion of falsifying entries on the jail’s daily activity log.

The log is a daily government record kept by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to document the activity for each cell block.

According to the arrest warrant, on Sept. 16 both McBain and Lautret signed and initialed for 24 physical checks of the cell block.

However, video footage of their area only counts five checks.

During that same day, another detention officer took over for about an hour and a half.

That officer says McBain and Lautret falsely put his name on three cell block checks that he didn’t perform.

In a press conference Wednesday, Sheriff Richard Wiles said he doesn’t believe the inmate’s death is directly connected to the fact that the two officers didn’t make the cell checks required on their night shift.

Wiles said the inmate died of natural causes and had medical issues while in custody.

The inmate was found unresponsive during the morning hours.

“Ruptured bowel was the cause of death,” Wiles said. “The inmate had significant health issues, lived in the streets and had alcohol and drug abuse issues.”

Wiles expressed disappointment with the officers who failed to do their jobs.

“They will be held accountable for falsifying information on government records. We certainly are considering termination,” Wiles said. “This is not indicative of the majority of our employees.”

The officers have been on administrative leave without pay since the incident occurred, Wiles said.

The inmate had an incident with another inmate so he was moved from general population to a segregated cell for his protection, according to Wiles.

Wiles said the main job of a detention officer is to check on the inmates. They are required to do 15-minute checks for suicidal inmates, 30-minute checks for segregated cells and 60-minute checks for general population.

The sheriff said there is a process of making sure these checks are done and have caught and disciplined officers who have failed to do so.

“It is very disappointing because in this particular case, it was a graveyard shift. There are no visitors or attorneys. There are not a lot of activities and they can concentrate on doing their checks,” Wiles said. “These officers, based on the video, were just sitting around talking.”

The district attorney will have to decide whether to prosecute the officers or not. If they get convicted of a misdemeanor, their license would be revoked and they could not work for a certain number of years, Wiles said.

On the administrative side, if Wiles decides to terminate them, he would send a notice to the state saying that their separation from the agency was dishonorable. Wiles said this could also keep them from working, but ultimately the officers have their due process rights to appeal.

“We have great employees here who know what the expectations are and they perform a very difficult job for this community and here we have these two employees that failed to do that and embarrassed us all,” Wiles said.

As for the officer who relieved the two officers for lunch, he is also facing discipline for not doing the checks but Wiles said he did not falsify the log sheet.

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