Crime

Family of man who died in jail confront paramedics who didn’t help him

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Lynn Self still has nightmares about the day her brother died two years ago.

Hirschell Wayne Fletcher Jr. was outside of a soup kitchen in Dallas when two people beat and robbed him, twice. The first beating occurred at 5:37 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2016. One assailant picked up Fletcher by his jacket and slammed him into the ground twice. The second time Fletcher went down, he went head first.

Fletcher, 46, crawled to the nearby sidewalk and sat down.

But the attack wasn’t over.

One of the men went back over and stomped on Fletcher’s back several times. More than an hour later, the suspects went back and beat Fletcher for a second time. Both assailants have been convicted of the crime.

But it’s what happened later that Self says haunts her daily.

Bystanders who noticed the injured Fletcher flagged down a Dallas police officer who drove by shortly after the second assault. She called Dallas Fire Rescue and two paramedics — Kyle Foster Clark and Brad Alan Cox, both 42 — arrived.

Body camera footage that was reviewed by the Dallas County district attorney and by Fletcher’s sister shows that the firefighters laughed at Fletcher’s condition and made fun of him instead of helping him, according to Self’s attorney, Eric Kolder.

Fletcher, who was bleeding from his head, told them repeatedly that he needed help.

A federal lawsuit filed by Fletcher’s children says that both Clark and Cox assumed Fletcher was drunk and began to harass and laugh at him as he sat on the sidewalk. They continuously mocked Fletcher for about 15 to 20 minutes, the lawsuit says.

Fletcher mug.jpg
Hirschell Wayne Fletcher Jr. Courtesy photo

Then, instead of taking Fletcher to a hospital for treatment, authorities took him to jail. He died hours later while lying underneath a jailhouse mattress.

Both Clark and Cox were indicted in September on a charge of tampering with a government record. The indictment says they falsified reports by stating that the Dallas Police Department hauled Fletcher to jail before their arrival.

Clark on Wednesday morning accepted a sentence of two years probation in exchange for his guilty plea. At his hearing, Self spoke about how Clark’s actions two years ago have affected her family.

In the days and weeks following Fletcher’s death, Self said she assumed that fault didn’t lie in the hands of the first responders, a career she said she has always respected.

But then she saw the body camera footage.

“Nothing could have prepared me for what we saw,” she said. “I actually never assumed anyone could be so unaffected with human life, you make me sick at my stomach and there are no words harsh enough that can explain how I feel about you today. It was all on video, you laughing, humiliating and making jokes of my brother and no one, not one time, attempted to do anything and safely enough, I do not believe this was your first time. It was too easy and neither one of you had one ounce of compassion or concern for life.”

Self reminded them of the oath they took when they became paramedics.

“Everyone who had any contact with my brother that night failed,” she said. “They system that we put our trust in failed the people you took an oath to protect. And as long as the system continues to hide the truth and the people continue to get a slap on the wrist, you will always have a problem.”

Self said she considers herself a strong person, but what she saw on the video has haunted her since.

“The constant nightmares, the sleepless nights of his death playing over and over in my dreams have taken a negative toll on my life,” she said. “Dying all alone on a cold concrete jail cell. I have never in my life hurt and cried so much. All because you chose not to do your jobs.”

At the end of the hearing, Self asked Clark if he had anything to say to her. He looked at his lawyer, and his lawyer shook his head no.

Later, Self said she got frustrated by that.

“It is pretty sad that you won’t allow someone to apologize or at least say I am sorry,” she told the lawyer. “If people would take responsibility for their actions none of us would probably be here today.”

Cox was also offered a plea deal, but has not officially accepted it.

Both Dallas Fire and Rescue and the City of Dallas have declined to comment because of the pending litigation.

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Nichole Manna is an investigative reporter for the Star-Telegram. Before moving to Fort Worth in July 2018, she covered crime and breaking news in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska and Kansas. She is a 2012 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and grew up in Florida.

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