Bexar County Jail inmate dies following medical episode, BCSO says

Six minutes elapsed between the time a deputy spoke to the inmate and the deputy finding the inmate unresponsive

Duane Ventimiglia, 40, was found unresponsive in his cell at the Bexar County jail on April 18, 2024 (Bexar County Sheriff's Office)

SAN ANTONIO – A 40-year-old inmate at the Bexar County Jail was found dead Thursday after a medical episode, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office said.

Authorities said a deputy spoke with the inmate, identified as Duane Ventimiglia, at 8:52 a.m. about getting him a new uniform. The deputy said Ventimiglia was sitting upright in his bunk.

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Six minutes later, the deputy said he returned to Ventimiglia’s cell — new uniform in hand — and found him unresponsive.

The sheriff’s office said the deputy called for medical assistance, opened Ventimiglia’s cell and began life-saving measures. Emergency responders assisted the deputy, but Ventimiglia was pronounced dead at 9:47 a.m.

Deputies said Ventimiglia suffered a medical episode connected to a history of substance abuse. The Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine a definite cause of death.

Ventimiglia was arrested by the San Antonio Police Department on April 13 on a criminal trespass charge, a Class B misdemeanor. Ventimiglia’s bond was reduced from $1,000 to $25 four days later.

He was scheduled to be in court on Thursday, the sheriff’s office said.

Ventimiglia’s death is one of several non-violent offenders who have died in Bexar County Jail custody in recent years.

Some of those deaths include Janice Dotson-Stephens, 61, who was arrested on a trespassing charge in July 2018. She was held on $300 bond until she died at the jail in December 2018.

Dotson-Stephens’ family filed a lawsuit against Bexar County, BCSO and University Health. In January 2022, a federal jury determined Bexar County and University Health were not liable in Dotson-Stephens’ death.

Jack Ule, 63, was charged with trespassing before he died in custody in April 2019. His bond was set at $500.

Stephen Cole, 61, was found unresponsive in his jail cell in December 2019. Cole was charged with trespassing on private property and faced a $400 bond.

A BCSO detention officer found Derrick Ellison, 47, having trouble breathing in his jail cell in December 2022.

Ellison, who was also charged with trespassing, regained consciousness and was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation. Hours later, he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

He was arrested and booked into the Bexar County Jail in June 2022. His bond was set at $1,500.

More coverage of Bexar County Jail inmate deaths on KSAT:

About the Author

Nate Kotisso joined KSAT as a digital journalist in 2024. He previously worked as a newspaper reporter in the Rio Grande Valley for more than two years and spent nearly three years as a digital producer at the CBS station in Oklahoma City.

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