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Tarrant County approves $200,000 settlement for jail beating victim

A photo of a crowded government meeting room full of public officials at laptops at low tables, and rows of observers behind them. A woman stands at a podium at the front and speaks into a microphone.
Miranda Suarez
Fort Worth resident Julie Griffin speaks to Tarrant County Commissioners on Jan. 23, 2024. She told commissioners there has been no true accountability for the jailhouse beating of Cory Rodrigues.

Tarrant County will pay $200,000 to settle a lawsuit from Cory Rodrigues, who had to be hospitalized after a jailer broke his ribs and collapsed his lung during a beating in his cell, according to the lawsuit and law enforcement documents.

The beating on July 19, 2020 was caught on tape, and the three jailers implicated faced criminal charges at first. But last year, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office dismissed each case, to the surprise of Rodrigues and his current and former attorneys.

“It made me feel like I was helpless, and I had nothing, and that whatever I went through didn't mean anything,” Rodrigues told KERA in July.

Tarrant County Commissioners voted to approve the settlement – which is not an admission of wrongdoing – at their regular meeting Tuesday. Every commissioner voted yes except Gary Fickes, who was absent.

There has been no true accountability for Rodrigues’ beating, Tarrant County resident Julie Griffin told commissioners during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“Not only is there no apology to Mr. Rodrigues, there is no statement from jail leadership that ‘We will do better,’ because that would acknowledge that something was terribly wrong,” Griffin said.

Then-jailer Reginald Lowe was originally charged with assault causing serious bodily injury for his alleged role in Rodrigues’ beating. According to his arrest warrant affidavit, Lowe slammed Cory Rodrigues into a concrete bunk and punched him several times, breaking five of his ribs, his cheekbone and collapsing his lung.

During interviews with Detective Christen Jarvis of the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office, none of the three jailers “could explain or come close to explaining anything near what the video showed or the injuries to Rodrigues,” Jarvis wrote.

One of the jailers, Dakota Coston, told Jarvis the incident was “passive guidance,” not a hands-on altercation, and that he saw the incident “as a ‘normal thing’ in that housing unit,” Jarvis wrote in an arrest warrant affidavit.

The Tarrant County DA’s office has never publicly explained why prosecutors decided to drop the charges against the former jailers.

The settlement in the Rodrigues case brings the county’s recent jail settlement payouts to at least $1.6 million. Last year, county commissioners approved a $1 million settlement with the mother of Javonte Myers. Myers died of a seizure disorder in his cell, after jailers failed to check on him, the lawsuit claimed. The two now-former jailers face criminal charges for falsifying checks on Myers.

In 2022, the county also agreed to pay $400,000 to the family of Dean Stewart, who died by suicide in the jail in 2020. Jailers also missed checks on Stewart, leading the jail to lose its certification for six days, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Other jail lawsuits are still pending, including one filed on behalf of a woman with developmental disabilities and severe mental health problems, who gave birth unattended in her cell. The baby died 10 days after birth.

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

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Miranda Suarez is KERA’s Tarrant County accountability reporter. Before coming to North Texas, she was the Lee Ester News Fellow at Wisconsin Public Radio, where she covered statewide news from the capital city of Madison. Miranda is originally from Massachusetts and started her public radio career at WBUR in Boston.