TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — Kristina Salinas is on a mission to get answers about what happened to her sister, 38-year-old Kelly Masten while behind bars at Tarrant County Corrections Center. Salinas said her sister ended up with life threatening injuries while in custody.
"I want accountability," said Salinas.
Last month, Salinas drove 11 hours to Fort Worth from her home located outside of Jackson, Mississippi to help her sister get the care she needed.
On Tuesday, May 10, Salinas and her family, along with people they've never met, held a march at the Tarrant County courthouse to protest Masten's treatment at the jail.
Masten suffers from Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, a rare epilepsy disorder causing her to have seizures nearly every day. She also has severe intellectual disabilities and her family says she has the mental capacity of a 5-year-old.
On April 11, her grandmother called 911 after Masten bit her. Officers took Masten into custody on a charge of assault-bodily injury and told her grandmother that Masten would be taken to jail and then to the mental health unit at John Peter Smith Hospital.
But instead of ending up in the hospital, Masten spent 10 days in jail. During that time Salinas's father said he watched Masten have a seizure while in custody, all while trying to explain her illness.
"She was alone, fallen in a cell, that there was no one cleaning up after her when she was, you know, urinating on herself and pulling out her hair, and making sure she got in the bed and wasn't just lying on the cold floor," said Salinas.
Masten’s family shared photos of bruises all over her body. They said she’s now on a ventilator in intensive care.
Masten's family says despite the injuries to her body, Tarrant County Corrections told them jailers followed policy and procedure.
The organizer for Tuesday's protest, Tamera Hutcherson is starting a coalition for jail accountability. She's inviting anyone concerned about the care and treatment of people behind bars to join the TCSO Accountability Coalition.
"This continues to happen, and nobody is being held accountable. So, the whole purpose of this coalition is to continue to apply pressure and to hold the sheriff's office and county officials accountable," Hutcherson said. "What I would say to Sheriff Bill Waybourn is that enough is enough. We don't want another person dying on our watch or suffering on our watch in Tarrant County jail."
Salinas went before the Tarrant County Commissioners Court to fight for change. During her appearance, commissioners allotted her more time to speak about the changes she would like to see to keep others from suffering a similar fate as her sister.
"No one knows her like I do. She's just, she's a child. She's so innocent," Salinas said. "So, to know that for the first time in her life she was away from family she was probably scared, confused, obviously very injured, and there was no one there to help her, furious."