Bexar County Jail inmate dies after alleged assault by gang members, sheriff’s office says

Deputies say the inmate, a 40-year-old man, died at an area hospital early Sunday

(From left) Brandon Lee Lerma, 28, and Ernesto Manuel Tavera, 50. (BCSO/KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A 40-year-old inmate has died after an alleged assault by two other inmates at the Bexar County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputies said the man had reported to the unit officer that he was “uncomfortable” in the living unit.

While the officer was gathering information as to what was causing the man to feel uncomfortable, inmates Ernesto Tavera, 50, and Brandon Lerma, 28, were able to open their cell door. Deputies said they then ran into the officer’s station and allegedly assaulted the victim, who hasn’t been named.

The unit officer requested assistance and was able to open a pneumatic sliding door to the unit, allowing the man to exit, authorities said. He was able to quickly shut the sliding door to prevent the other inmates from continuing the attack.

Tavera and Lerma were detained, deputies said.

The man who was allegedly assaulted had multiple injuries and deputies began to perform life-saving measures. He was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7:07 a.m. Sunday.

Deputies said the alleged assault happened in a unit where active Mexican Mafia gang members are housed. The man, along with Tavera and Lerma, are active members of the gang, according to the BCSO.

The man was booked into the Bexar County Jail on Aug. 6 for aggravated robbery and an out-of-county warrant for assault causing bodily injury.

Authorities said additional charges for Tavera and Lerma will be filed by the Texas Rangers.

Taverna had been in the Bexar County Jail since Nov. 9 for possession of a controlled substance and evading arrest, according to the BCSO.

Lerna had been in the Bexar County Jail since Sept. 12 for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily injury of a family member.

The Texas Rangers are handling the death investigation and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards has been notified of the incident, deputies said. BCSO Internal Affairs and the Public Integrity Unit are also conducting investigations as well.

More on KSAT:

About the Author:

Emily Martin is the KSAT Insider Membership Producer. She earned a journalism degree from Texas State University, where she was news director at KTSW, the campus radio station. She has also interned at KXAN and KUT in Austin.