Bexar County pays out $2.4 million settlement to family of inmate killed in jail

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County has paid a $2.4 million settlement to the family of an inmate who was killed in the jail in August 2021.

Curtis Smith, 66, was killed by a fellow inmate who used a sock and a bandana to choke and suffocate him in a holding cell.

Mark Anthony Wong, is charged with murder. In January 2022, Wong was found incompetent to stand trial and was committed to the state’s psychiatric hospital in Vernon.

Smith had been arrested on a warrant for assault following a welfare check after he was wandering in the street near South Side Lions Park. Wong had been arrested for allegedly shooting his roommate in an attempt to kill him.

They were placed in the same holding cell with a third inmate and they all remained in their street clothes, including the bandana Smith was wearing which was used to choke him.

The lawsuit alleged that the jail did not appropriately classify the detainees by conducting risk assessments.

Shortly after Smith was found dead, Wong was moved to another cell where he is accused of attacking another inmate and biting his nose, the lawsuit stated.

The case was litigated for several months and the parties reached an agreement in February, according to constitutional rights lawyer Dean Malone. The money was paid by the county’s insurance company and the final disbursement occurred this month.

“Curtis’ children are glad to bring this case to a resolution,” Malone said. “There is no amount of money that could ever compensate them for the loss of their father. However, the lawsuit hopefully gained the attention of those who can make changes in the Bexar County jail. No reasonable person would have put Curtis into that situation. Locking Curtis into a cell with Mr. Wong would almost certainly result in serious injury or death, and that is exactly what happened. Curtis paid the ultimate price.”

KSAT reached out to BCSO and Bexar County for comment.

Watch the KSAT report from 2021 below:

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