Yet another egregious display of power came from a Texas jailer this week, who was arrested and fired over his sexual mistreatment of an inmate. A Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Deputy, Michael David Hinojosa, attempted to wake a recently booked prisoner, for the process of fingerprinting and mugshots, by thrusting his baton into the victim’s anus multiple times. According to reports, the incident was so atrocious to fellow jail deputies that they reported him for the offensive act.
According to one witness, another jail deputy working at the time, they “confirmed that he observed Detention Officer Michael Hinojosa push his ASP baton into the inmate’s anus four to five times.” Of course, Hinojosa probably thought he was just joking around, and that the rape of an inmate with a steel baton was all in good fun. He was most likely shocked to find out that his co-workers had turned against him and reported this gross abuse of power. The inmate was asleep on a holding cell bench when officers tried to wake him. He engaged them in a small struggle before being held down and handcuffed. While he was on the floor, Hinojosa assaulted him.
Internal investigations at the Hidalgo Sheriff’s Office conducted a shockingly fast investigation, arresting Hinojosa this past Monday. The speed at which they conducted the investigation shows that the months we wait for other cases of police misconduct to be resolved, are in fact, in vain.
Sheriff Eddie Guerra released a statement addressing the incident. “As your Hidalgo County Sheriff…I truly believe that as public servants, we must maintain accountability and trust from the people we serve, to continue the mission of public safety. I am greatly disappointed and concerned, over the actions of one of my detention officers that does not reflect our office’s commitment to these high standards.”
This case is not only just another sexual assault committed by those entrusted to protect, it is just one example of the rampant corruption that has been going on in Hidalgo County. A 2015 article by NRP highlighted the FBI’s investigation into Hidalgo county at every level. Everyone from the county commission to the Sheriff was found to have been involved in one form of corruption or another. “And we’re going to pursue all of these people: school board, city, county, state, judicial, executive, legislative. We’re going to pursue them and we’re going to lock them up,” stated Rock Stone, a member of the FBI task force responsible for going after corruption in south Texas. A federal task force ended up netting 83 corrupt politicians in a single dragnet operation.
Hinojosa was booked on a charge of improper sexual conduct with an inmate and released on bail Monday night. He is the second deputy from the Hidalgo jail to be fired and charged after incidents stemming from violence against an inmate, in just the last few months.
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