Fort Worth

Woman's Family Accuses Jail of Mistreatment, Demands Tarrant County Sheriff Resign

Photographs released by Kelly Masten’s family show a woman in a hospital bed with bruises all over her body

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The family of a woman jailed in Tarrant County who ended up in a medically induced coma is demanding Sheriff Bill Waybourn resign.

A review by his office found jail staff did not commit any crimes against Kelly Masten who suffers from a severe type of epilepsy.

There was a rally held outside the Tarrant County Commissioners Court on Tuesday morning.

Advocates and Masten’s family are also demanding changes to how people with intellectual disabilities are jailed.

Photographs released by Masten’s family show a woman in a hospital bed with bruises all over her body.

Photo provided by Masten's family.

They claim that is how she ended up after being held for 10 days in the Tarrant County Jail.

Photo provided by Masten's family.

Fort Worth police arrested the 38-year-old in April for allegedly hitting an elderly woman, according to online court documents.

“The first thing they did wrong was the PD took her to Tarrant County Jail instead of directly to JPS MHMR which is where she needed to go,” said Masten’s sister, Kristina Salinas.

The sheriff’s office said JPS hospital staff, which is set up at the jail, evaluated Masten before she was booked.

“The evaluation obviously does not work, it should not even be in place,” said Salinas.

She argued her sister should have been taken to the hospital to receive a modification in her medications.

Instead, Masten was allegedly behind bars without receiving medication, she suffered multiple seizures and ended up in a medically induced coma.

The sheriff’s office said a review found no criminal wrongdoing adding that Masten was housed in a cell by herself and closely monitored. Detention officers conducted regular checks including at least 20 interactions with medical personnel and two trips to the hospital.

“If those are the policies and procedures they’re going by and going to stand by with the condition that she is in, then there’s a serious problem here,” said Salinas.  

In a statement, Waybourn said there is a problem: "There is a need for the state to increase the number of mental health beds available for those who have significant MHMR needs."

According to Waybourn, as of last week, 138 inmates in Tarrant County are waiting for a bed in the state mental health hospital. These are inmates who were deemed incompetent to stand trial but can’t be released because of their charges.

The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office confirmed to NBC 5 that Masten’s charge of injury to a child/elderly/disabled with the intent of bodily injury has been dismissed but would not elaborate as to why.

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