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Jailers charged in connection to 2018 death of Nueces County inmate

A grand jury indicted 40-year-old William Fielder, 22-year-old Javier Zapata, Jr., and 33-year-old Richard Culp.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There has been yet another round of indictments against Nueces County jailers bringing the total to six, all facing charges of tampering with a government record and official oppression.

Similar charges were filed last month when 3News reported on the alleged incidents of inmates being beaten by jailers at the Nueces County Jail.

The latest indictments were handed down by a grand jury last Thursday against three jailers after they were implicated for taking certain actions around the time of a 49-year-old inmate's death.

Now all six jailers are being investigated by the Texas Rangers.

It was last Thursday when a grand jury indicted 22-year-old Javier Zapata, Jr., 40-year-old William Fielder and 33-year-old Richard Culp. All three face charges of tampering with a government record and official oppression. Zapata faces an additional charge of invasive visual recording.

It was back on Dec. 15, 2018, when 49-year-old David Johnson died while in the Nueces County Jail. In an interview with 3News, Sheriff Chris Hooper said the cause of his death was an accidental fall, but according to records from the Nueces County Medical Examiner's autopsy report, the cause pointed to medical issues.

The jailers are not accused of causing Johnson's death.

RELATED: Nueces County Jail inmate dies after apparent fall

With these new indictments, that means a total of six Nueces County jailers and four separate incidents are now being investigated.

3News was contacted by a source within the Nueces County Jail last month who said incidents of violence between jailers and inmates were commonplace.

Two other jailers, Oliver Michael Buendia and Marcus Lopez, have been arrested for incidents unrelated to the current indictment, including for tampering with government documents.

Zapata was also indicted along with Buendia and Lopez.

The Nueces County District Attorney's Office confirmed that it has been made aware of at least three cases involving abuse at the jail prior to last week's indictments. The most recent happened in September of this year. 24-year-old Bobby Benavides is facing felony charges after prosecutors said he beat an inmate while in custody. Benavides was arrested and charged with aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, official oppression, and tampering with a government record.

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