Hudson County Jail Doesn't Perform Autopsy on Immigrant Detainee Who Died In Custody

It’s been more than two weeks since Carlos Mejia-Bonilla died while he was in the custody of immigration authorities, however, his family is still trying to figure out exactly what happened to him at Hudson County Correctional Facility. Unfortunately, these answers might never be found because an autopsy was never performed.

Hudson County officials began an investigation to determine if Mejia-Bonilla got proper care for his illnesses during his detention. They were surprised to find out that the state medical examiner never ordered an autopsy after determining the death was from natural causes.

Mejia-Bonilla’s family and immigrant advocates fear that the missing autopsy might set back investigations. Mejia-Bonilla died on June 8 at Jersey City Medical Center from internal bleeding. His death drew the attention of the public after family members claimed the jail had ignored his health conditions. As county officials and the jail's medical provider promised to investigate the matter, crowds began to rally outside the jail to demand answers.

Although the absence of an autopsy report has surprised county officials and complicated the investigation, a medical examiner does have the legal right to determine whether or not an autopsy will be performed. Autopsies are only required for homicides, suspicious deaths, and deaths that might threaten public health interests. According to state law, autopsies are required for jail and prison inmates unless the medical examiner is able to conclude the cause of death "beyond a reasonable doubt."

The jail’s health care provider, CFG Health Systems, has declined to comment on the death but has maintained the stance that it delivers an "extraordinary" level of care for Hudson Correctional’ s inmates.

Do you have more questions about how inmate autopsies are performed? Contact our team of New York immigration attorneys, or call (212) 577-9312 to find out how we can help you today.