- Parker was accused of murdering 64-year-old Harry Parnell and critically injuring 36-year-old Jose Rangel on January 9
- In 2015 Bland was found dead in the same jail after allegedly hanging herself three days after being arrested during a traffic stop
- A 2018 inspection showed the jail still had issues similar to the ones found in 2015 following the death of Bland
About a month after an inspection of the Waller County Jail by regulators revealed jailers are not meeting certain standards for frequency of observing prisoners, 34-year-old Evan Lyndell Parker hung himself in his cell. The same jail sparked national outrage after the death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland in 2015.
Parker was accused of murdering 64-year-old Harry Parnell and critically injuring 36-year-old Jose Rangel on January 9, 2019. The three men worked together at Orizon Industries in Waller County. While it has remained unclear what exactly led up to the fatal stabbing, deputies believe it was work-related. Parker was arrested after fleeing in a gray 2014 Nissan Versa and booked into jail on January 10.
According to administrative assistant for the sheriff’s office Shawna Willke, Parker had tried to hang himself two days before his death. Parker died on January 25, but the Waller County Sheriff’s Office did not release a statement until January 30 on their Facebook. In the statement, the sheriff’s office said “no indications of wrong doing or violations of policy with this event.”
In July 2015, Bland was found dead in the Waller County Jail after allegedly hanging herself three days after being arrested during a traffic stop by Texas Department of Safety Trooper Brian Encinia. Encinia was fired after dashcam footage was released showing the escalated traffic stop. It was determined Encinia’s account of what transpired was not what the dashcam recorded.
In 2016, Bland’s family settled a $1.9 million wrongful death lawsuit against Waller County officials and Encinia. As a result, Encinia can never get a job in law enforcement again. Outrage from Bland’s death led to investigations into jails across the state as an attempt to prevent a second incident. However, a recent inspection showed similar issues still exist at Waller County Jail.
The December 2018 inspection showed that at times jailers went almost two and a half hours without face-to-face observation of inmates. Jailers are required to make face-to-face observations with all inmate once every hour. Furthermore, inmates who have shown assaultive, potentially suicidal, mentally ill or who have demonstrated bizarre behavior are to be checked on every half hour. The December inspection showed staff at Waller County Jail exceeded that time by 74 minutes. In 2015, jailers spoke to Bland via an intercom instead of face-to-face about an hour before she was found dead.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Waller County Judge Trey Duhon referred to the report from the inspection as “opinions” and went on to speak of all the improvements at the jail.
They’re certainly entitled to their opinions, but anybody who wants to come down to our jail and see all the changes and processes we’ve made since 2015 is welcome to do that. The self-checks are conducted with more frequency than ever before. We have medical staff. We spent a lot of time and money improving the situation at the Waller County Jail.
Other agencies, such as the Texas Rangers and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards are waiting on the results of an autopsy on Parker to conduct pending investigations.