By Brooke Sopelsa and Tim Fitzsimons
Roxsana Hernandez, a 33-year-old transgender woman from Honduras, died in May just weeks after she filed for asylum had the US border. Now, half a year later, an independent autopsy report found that she suffered "physical abuse" prior to her death.
Dr. Kris Sperry, a forensic pathologist from Georgia, noted that Hernandez was "deeply hurt" by the chest wall and "deep bruises that stretch on the back." Sperry also noted that Hernandez's wrists had bruises that " typical of handcuff injuries are "the preliminary cause of death as cardiac arrest," adding that this finding threatened an autopsy by the New Mexico office for medical examination. This autopsy report has not been published.
The Transgender Law Center, a non-profit civil rights group that has assigned Sperry with the conduct of the autopsy, and Andrew Free, a civil rights advocate commissioned by the Hernandez family, said Monday in a statement that Hernandez died of dehydration complications in the Related to HIV-positive.
"Her death was completely avoidable," they said.
An ICE spokesman denied any allegation that Hernandez had been abused in the custody of the agency.
The spokeswoman, Danielle Bennett, said in an e-mail that while the agency "can not speak with the validity of the private autopsy" confirmed a test carried out by Hernandez & # 39; death of ICE Health Service Corps that she had a history of untreated HIV.
Bennett said that no one in the two hospitals where Hernandez was being treated had "raised any issues about suspected physical abuse." She added that the agency would continue to investigate the case.
Free said he had placed requests for information regarding the treatment of Hernandez and said her family was considering an unlawful death suit, depending on the answer.
Sperry He was paid by the company Free for conducting the autopsy. In 2015, he resigned as the Chief Medical Examiner in Georgia, after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found in a report of more than five dozen private cases that Sperry was working while employed in the state that he had been in a row accused of "adapting conclusions to its paying customers".
In a statement published by the Transgender Law Center, Hernandez's family in Honduras criticized the treatment of Roxsana while escaping US custody of an epidemic of transphobic violence there, seeking "for a better life."
"Now we have only hope that we can see justice for them," the family said, "Justice for Roxsana."
Nine prisoners died in ICE custody in the 2018 financial year, which ended on September 30, and two died in the 2019 financial year, which began last month, according to the ICE website.
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Daniella Silva contributed.