Texas teen with learning disability dies after alleged prison attack: 'We shall get justice'


A 19-year-old with a learning disability who was an inmate at the Harris County Jail in Texas died after being brutally attacked by another inmate, his family’s attorney alleges.

Fred Harris was beaten and stabbed by a 240-pound inmate, according to civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen, who is representing Harris’ family.

“98 pound special needs inmate brain dead after attack by 240 pound repeat violent offender with knife at understaffed Harris County jail,” Kallinen said in a Wednesday Facebook post. “We shall get justice.”

Fred Harris (middle) with his family (Credit: Randall Kallinen)

Fred Harris (middle) with his family (Credit: Randall Kallinen)

Michael Ownby, a 25-year-old inmate, allegedly bashed Harris’ head on a concrete floor, kicked his head and stabbed him with a weapon “made from a sharpened eating utensil,” according to court documents.

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Ownby is facing charges of aggravated assault resulting in a serious bodily injury. He is also facing additional charges including assault of a public servant, continuous violence against the family and evading arrest and detention with a vehicle, according to inmate records. 

Fred Harris (Credit: Randall Kallinen)

Fred Harris (Credit: Randall Kallinen)

Harris was arrested in October for brandishing a knife at a group home for individuals with developmental disorders, according to his mother, Dallas Garcia, as FOX 26 Houston first reported. She said she immediately went to the sheriff’s office after his arrest to ensure he would be taken care of at the facility.

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“When I left, they said my son would be OK and they would handle this, and so we are here now a couple days later, and this wasn’t handled,” she said.

“Mr. Harris’ death is a tragedy and adds to the increasing number of lives taken violently in every corner of our society this year,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a statement to Fox News. “We are determined to ensure that his killer faces justice, and we extend our condolences to Mr. Harris’ family.”

Harris County Jail (Google Maps)

Harris County Jail (Google Maps)

Harris’ death marks the 18th fatality at the detention center so far this year, according to The Houston Chronicle.

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The tragedy comes after the Harris County Deputies Organization filed a lawsuit against county leaders, alleging understaffing and underfunding issues that have made jail conditions unsafe, as FOX 26 first reported.

“We’ve been warning them. We’ve been trying to talk to them. We’ve been telling them. They are not listening. They don’t care,” Deputies’ Organization attorney Dave Batton told the outlet. “We need more guards. We need more staff so that fights can be stopped, fights can be prevented, people can be separated.”

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