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Family Looks for Answers after Queer Woman Dies in Police Custody

Irene Chavez
Image via GoFundMe

Irene Chavez is one of two women to die in Chicago police custody within a few months. 


Chicago's Civilian Office of Police Accountability has released videos and documents around the death of queer woman Irene Chavez following her death while in custody at a police station in Chicago in December. She's one of two women to die in police custody in recent months.

Chavez, 33, was detained December 17 after a bar fight at the city's Jeffrey Pub, according to ABC News. She had been belligerent during processing at the station. Chavez informed officers she was a veteran and had PTSD.

In the early hours of December 18, Chavez was found hanging in her cell.

In the incident report, authorities say Chavez was shouting in her holding cell. Eventually, she stopped, and after five minutes of silence, an officer checked on her. It's then that police found her hanging with barely a pulse, ABC News reports.

Video in the release shows the officers attempting CPR. She was later pronounced dead after they transferred her to the University of Chicago Hospital. The official cause of death has not been released pending autopsy results.

The information release has the family of Chavez still looking for answers.

Chavez's sister, Iris Chavez, told media outlets in December that police had not provided information on her sister's death.

She started a GoFundMe page to support covering Chavez's death.

"When I say my heart is what one would call broken glass in a bag...MY absolute FAVORITE PERSON IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD and ONLY SISTER HAS PASSED AWAY," she wrote on the page.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is also looking into the death of London Marquez, 31, who was pregnant when she died.

An autopsy is pending in that case.

If you or someone you know are feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Hotline at (800) 273-8255. If you are an LGBTQ+ youth and need help, you can reach out to the Trevor Project at (866) 488-7386 or text 678678 to talk to someone 24/7.

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