Jorge Zuñiga’s death, one-year later family continues looking for answers

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EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO) —July 15 marks the one-year anniversary of Jorge Zuñiga’s death, and his family along with La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) protested outside the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office to demand justice.

“Of course they have ignored us,” said Katia Gonzalez, Jorge Zuñiga’s sister.

Zuñiga’s family explained that they want to speak with Sheriff Eddie Guerra directly, but say since the very beginning, the county has not been transparent and they will not stop until they are heard.

“We want to talk with Sheriff Guerra to see what he’s doing with the D.A., Ricardo Rodriguez because literally, they’re not doing anything—we’re wanting answers,” said Gonzalez.

According to the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, Zuñiga was arrested for public intoxication and two non-violent minor misdemeanors but they were dropped.

Credit: KVEO Iris Karami; Pictured: Zuñiga’s Family and LUPE observing a moment of silence
Credit: Hidalgo County Public Records

Zuñiga’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Hidalgo County which states that deputies Steven Farias, Marco Guerrero, and two others identified as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 were involved in arresting Zuñiga. Upon his arrest, the lawsuit states he was tased, his neck was crushed, and was not given immediate medical attention at the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center.

In his mug shot, his head is shown being held up by gloved hands out-of-frame, and later died in the hospital on July 15, 2020.

“Before my brother passed away my mom came to ask internal affairs to ask the officers to go please say sorry to my brother after all they did and they ignored us,” said Gonzalez.

KVEO spoke with Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office’s Public Information Officer that says Guerra is not available for public comment because the case is under civil litigation. They also told KVEO that the case is being investigated by Texas Rangers, but Zuñiga’s family said it is not enough.

LUPE organized the protest and said that this is not unusual within the farmworker community, which Zuñiga was a part of.

“The community lives in fear they don’t want to call the police…Police only escalates things if they want to change their image they need to change the way they treat us,” said Elizabeth Rodriguez, a farmworker advocate with LUPE.

Now, Gonzalez said that she has to continue life without her only brother.

“It’s really hard because it was only me and my brother—it was only both of us we grew up together we did everything together,” said Gonzalez. “They took away his life and it’s not fair.”

Credit KVEO; Pictured: Katia Gonzalez, sister of Jorge Zuñiga

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