March 01, 2006

No Charges To Be Filed In Boy's "Basket Hold" Death

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express (subscribe)

INGRAM, TEXAS--Criminal charges will not be filed in connection to the death of a 12-year-old boy who died after being physically restrained at a residential treatment center.

A Kerr County grand jury on February 17 found no evidence of a crime in the December 4 death of Christening "Mikie" Garcia at Star Ranch.

The Kerryville Daily Times reported that Garcia, an "emotionally disturbed" youth, died after a worker restrained the boy with his arms across his chest and his hands held behind him, in what is called a "basket hold".

The Travis County Medical Examiner had ruled Garcia's death was the result of "suffocation during physical restraint."

Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer had said the boy had been placed in "time out" after refusing to obey staff orders, but that he started banging his own head against a concrete sidewalk, "so they had to restrain him."

The "experienced" staff member, whose name has not been disclosed, then held Garcia until he stopped breathing. Attempts to resuscitate the boy were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services placed Garcia at the facility, which houses youths with learning disabilities and emotional difficulties, after his parents gave up parental rights to him and his two siblings during a family crisis.

The department is conducting its own investigation into Star Ranch, which has been investigated five times in the past two years on allegations of abuse and neglect, including the inappropriate use of restraints and lack of supervision.

A Star Ranch spokesperson expressed thanks to the sheriff's office and the grand jury.

"We are grateful for the prayers," he told the Daily Times. "A lot of people have been very concerned for Star Ranch."

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Posted on March 01, 2006