Former inmates file lawsuit against Harlingen Police Department

It was a stay at the Harlingen Police Department that Mark Andrade of San Benito would not soon forget.

In October, Andrade was pulled over by Harlingen police who discovered he had nearly $2,000 dollars in unpaid traffic tickets and put him in jail.

"I mean I heard them say themselves that nobody's ever been sick in their jail but I TMm right here - I went to the hospital," Andrade said.

The San Benito man and another former Harlingen City Jail inmate are suing the police department after they had to be hospitalized due to the alleged actions of jailers.

"It TMs no problem for me to serve time, you know, Andrade said at a press conference on Tuesday morning. If get treated fair, I TMll be fine. I TMll serve my time and won TMt complain. But if they're going to be (treating me) like a dog, not caring about you, it's something else."

Andrade said he spent the first day in jail without seeing a judge and without food.

By the second day he said he was so hungry, that he ate a sandwich provided by the department even though he claims it was expired.

"I woke up at about 3 a.m. throwing-up, Andrade said.

Andrade said he was later transported to the Valley Baptist Medical Center for treatment and was prescribed medications.

However, Andrade said, when he returned to jail, he claims police would not let him take his medications.

Attorney for the South Texas Civil Rights Project Corinna Spencer-Scheurich said it was the Harlingen Police Department's responsibility to adequately care for Andrade.

"If they are going to arrest people, they have a duty of care, Spencer-Scheurich said. And the conditions that he suffered through, are deplorable."

She said Andrade suffered for eight days as a result of the food poisoning and said no one should have to be incarcerated under such conditions.

"We are suing for an injunctive relief that they change their policies and practices and how they keep and take care of people who are in jail here, Spencer-Scheurich said. And we're asking for compensation."

Andrade did not disclose how much he is seeking in the lawsuit, but said he hopes he can prevent another person from the alleged mistreatment going on at the Harlingen jail.

"All I just really want is just for them to treat people better, Andrade said. I don TMt want this to happen to somebody else."