County jail suicide prompts lawsuit

The family of a man who hanged himself in the county jail in the summer of 2019 is suing Culberson County.

John Schubert Jr., 35, hanged himself in the early hours of July 7, 2019. According to court documents, he was found with a sheet tied to his neck and suspended from a shelf in the cell. Efforts to revive Schubert were unsuccessful.

The lawsuit alleges that county officials violated Schubert’s constitutional rights to reasonable mental health care, to be protected, and not to be punished as a pre-trial detainee.

The federal lawsuit was filed on June 8, 2021, in El Paso on behalf of Schubert’s family.

According to the complaint, Schubert was wandering around Van Horn in the late hours of July 6, 2019, telling people that someone was trying to kill him. A deputy later responded to calls about Schubert wandering about town and making such statements. He was then arrested after it was discovered that there was an active warrant for an alleged parole violation.

The complaint states that Schubert was not booked-in to the jail, and the mental health screening form required by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) was not completed.

Subsequently, an investigation by the TCJS found that Culberson County violated Texas jail standards. The TCJS inspector found that the required mental health screening form was not completed immediately upon intake as required by minimum jail standards. It was also determined that the face-to-face observation that occurred after Schubert was placed into the cell exceeded the required 60-minute observations by 12 minutes.

The complaint seeks damages for Schubert’s medical and burial expenses, punitive damages, attorney fees and court costs.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone.