Questions surrounding the death of a queer Latinx Greensboro woman, who spent approximately three hours at the Guilford County Detention Center, have largely gone unanswered by Guilford County law enforcement officials for almost two weeks.
On Oct. 16, according to a media release, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and Greensboro Detention Center staff discovered 24-year-old Hispanic female Anna Chris Dominguez unresponsive in her holding cell at 5:15 a.m.
“Life-saving measures were immediately rendered by detention staff, and Emergency Medical Services were activated,” the release stated. “Due to her level of intoxication, the Magistrates Office ordered her into the custody of the Guilford County Jail, and that she be brought back before them at 12 noon or when sober for a hearing and to sign a Written Promise to Appear.”
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Anna was transported to Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 6:18 a.m. The investigation into her death is still ongoing.
Anna was arrested by the Greensboro Police Department on charges of “Driving While Intoxicated, Operating a Vehicle with No Insurance, Misdemeanor Simple Possession of a Controlled Substance Schedule IV, and Driving a Motor Vehicle with No Registration” at 1:02 a.m. and processed into the facility at 2:20 a.m.
Anna’s widow, Maquaito Dominguez, 39, wants to know what happened to her wife in less than three hours of being held at the Greensboro Detention Center.
“The way I found out was through the news,” Maquaito said of her wife’s death. “Nobody called me because I wasn’t down as the emergency contact, so they had to find the next of kin. I was really hurt. I had seen it on the news, and I told my kids— I have three kids and three grandkids— and I was sitting here doing hair, and it popped up on my phone.”
Maquaito spoke to YES! Weekly by phone on Oct. 23 to share what she was told by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office in regards to her wife’s death.
“Here is what they told me,” she said. “[Detective Fleming] told me that they had found her passed out on the side of the road, but when they found her on the side of the road, she told them she was drinking alcohol and had took some Percocet. They took her into custody, she had to sit and do bloodwork, and when she got [the results], she didn’t have any alcohol in her blood system at all. So, how would you charge someone with a DWI if they are not driving, sitting on the side of the road, and they don’t have any alcohol in their system?”
Maquaito said that the officer who told her the details of Anna’s arrest “didn’t even know if [Anna] was just heavyset or intoxicated,” as the reason why “she was walking funny” during a field sobriety test.
“She told me that Anna laid down at 2:20 a.m. and they watched her breathe,” Maquaito said. “But after that, at 2:30 a.m., she had taken her last breath, so what in the world were y’all doing from 2:30 to 5:15 a.m.?”
Maquaito also noted that Anna had a fractured rib, which she said could have happened while EMS was trying to revive her.
“I don’t understand what is going on, and how but that stuff didn’t feel right with me,” Maquaito said of what law enforcement officials told her of Anna’s last few hours alive.
According to a Triad City Beat article by Jordan Green published on Oct. 23, Guilford County Sheriff’s Office attorney Jim Secor disputed Maquaito’s claim of the account Det. Fleming gave her that Anna “took her last breath at 2:30 a.m.”
However, Maquaito said she still stands by her original statement. Guilford County Sheriff’s Office officials have been promising to release more information about Anna’s death, including a detailed timeline of the events of Oct. 16, since last Wednesday.
“As a courtesy to the wife and mother, I feel compelled to send them the timeline first so that they are not seeing it for the first time in the media,” wrote Secor in an Oct. 27 email. “In order to make that happen, I will not be able to meet your written publication deadline of 2 p.m. but will still get this to you and the other members of the media later this afternoon. Sorry, I tried.”
Sheriff Rogers released the full timeline of events leading up to Anna's death on Oct. 27 at approximately 5 p.m., after the print version of this article went to press.
The release stated that the Sheriff’s investigators reviewed the video recorded by the camera in the holding cell, and according to the GCSO, Anna can be observed "breathing at least up until 4:46 a.m.— which appears to disputes Maquaito's claim. The release stated that the jail's nurses "also reported to the Detention Staff that first responders detected a pulse for Ms. Dominguez prior to transporting her to the hospital. Jail video establishes that no physical force was ever used on Ms. Dominguez by GPD or Sheriff’s Deputies at the Jail."
The timeline is as follows:
Thursday, October 15, 2020
11:07 p.m. — Guilford Metro 911 received a 911 call. The caller stated that a vehicle was stopped in the roadway and both occupants of the car appeared to have passed out. The caller was able to rouse the female driver who responded verbally with slurred speech. The caller could not tell whether this was a medical condition or some form of intoxication. Guilford County EMS was directed to respond.
11:11 p.m. – The Greensboro Police Department arrived on scene. At the time the first Officer arrived, Ms. Dominguez was seated in the driver’s seat of her car and the car’s engine was still running. Ms. Dominguez told the Officer that she had one Percocet and some amount of alcohol earlier that night.
11:13 p.m. – The GPD Officer asked Ms. Dominguez if she wanted medical treatment, but she declined. At that point, the earlier request for EMS was cancelled by radio.
11:29 p.m. – Ms. Dominguez failed on-scene sobriety tests and when asked by the GPD Officer to rate her own level of impairment on a scale of 1 to 10, Ms. Dominguez responded “6”. Two portable breath tests administered by GPD to Ms. Dominguez registered 0.0, but given the other evidence of her intoxication, Ms. Dominguez was arrested for Driving While Impaired and transported by GPD to Moses Cone Hospital where she consented to a blood draw.
11:50 p.m. – Ms. Dominguez arrived at Moses Cone Hospital in GPD’s custody. Friday, October 16, 2020
12:03 a.m. - A sample of Ms. Dominguez’s blood was drawn by a phlebotomist at Moses Cone Hospital. After the blood draw, GPD transported Ms. Dominguez to the Greensboro Detention Center.
12:16 a.m. – Ms. Dominguez arrived at the Sheriff’s Greensboro Detention Center.
12:22 a.m. – Escorted by GPD, Ms. Dominguez entered the Jail’s intake area. She was not handcuffed, she walked without assistance, and she changed seats several times while waiting to be seen by the Magistrate.
01:22 a.m. - Ms. Dominguez walked to the Magistrate’s window for her initial appearance hearing. As she did so, she was unsteady on her feet. The Magistrate issued an Order committing Ms. Dominguez into the custody of the Sheriff’s Office on charges including Driving While Impaired, Possession of a Scheduled IV Controlled Substance, Operating a Vehicle with No Insurance and with No Registration. The Order directed the Sheriff’s Detention Staff to hold Ms. Dominguez in the Jail, but to bring her back before the Magistrate to complete the initial appearance hearing “by 12 p.m. or when sober”.
01:24 a.m. — Ms. Dominguez returned to her seat in the intake area.
02:20 a.m. — Ms. Dominguez entered the Jail’s Booking area.
02:21 a.m. — Ms. Dominguez is placed in a single-person holding cell in the Booking area.
02:24 a.m. – A Detention Officer opened the door to the holding cell and provided Ms. Dominguez with a padded mat to sleep on.
02:25 a.m. – A Detention Officer escorted Ms. Dominguez from the holding cell to the nearby Nurse’s station where Ms. Dominguez has some of her vital signs checked.
02:28 a.m. — Ms. Dominguez is returned to the holding cell.
02:29 a.m. — A Detention Officer provided Ms. Dominguez with a cup of water inside the holding cell.
02:34 a.m. — A Detention Officer conducted a routine watch tour round and looked into the holding cell to check on Ms. Dominguez.
02:43 a.m. — A Nurse looked into the holding cell to check on Ms. Dominguez.
02:56 a.m. – A Nurse and Officer looked into cell to check on Ms. Dominguez.
03:42 a.m. — A Detention Officer conducted a routine watch tour round and looked into the cell to check on Ms. Dominguez.
04:40 a.m. — A Detention Officer conducted a routine watch tour round and looked into the cell to check on Ms. Dominguez.
05:15 a.m. – A Detention Officer brought a breakfast tray to the holding cell and attempted to wake Ms. Dominguez. Another Officer enters the cell and checked for pulse.
05:19 a.m. — Guilford Metro 911 received a call for EMS from the Detention Staff.
05:20 a.m. — CPR is started on Ms. Dominguez.
05:25 a.m. — First responders from the Greensboro Fire Department arrived at the holding cell. EMS arrives shortly thereafter. They take over the administration of CPR.
05:28 a.m. — Ms. Dominguez is moved from the cell into the booking area where CPR continues.
06:04 a.m. — Ms. Dominguez is placed into an ambulance by Guilford County EMS.
06:06 a.m. – The ambulance departed from the Jail in-route to Moses Cone Hospital.
06:13 a.m. — Ms. Dominguez is pronounced dead at Moses Cone Hospital
According to the media release, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services "will conduct an independent investigation while the Sheriffs’ Office continues with its own criminal investigation—the findings of which will be reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office."
At least two LGBTQIA+ women of color have died after being detained for a short period at the Greensboro Detention Center in the past two years.
Tasha Thomas, 33, died after being detained at the jail for only three days on charges of probation violation and possession of a controlled substance. According to an article by Chanel Davis in the Carolina Peacemaker, Thomas’s autopsy report stated her official cause of death was “sepsis due to infective endocarditis,” which is an infection in the heart “due to chronic injection drug use.”
On Oct. 23, YES! Weekly sent a series of questions regarding Anna’s arrest and treatment inside the detention center to GCSO communications director Lori Poag and Captain J. Sellers of the Greensboro Detention Center. In that email to Poag and Sellers, YES! Weekly asked if Sheriff Rogers and detention staff were worried about what the deaths of two queer women of color in two years might implicate to Guilford County citizens, and if Sheriff Rogers and detention center staff stood by how Anna was cared for while in their custody.
Sheriff Rogers seemed defensive earlier this summer when people gathered to protest Thomas’s death. According to the Carolina Peacemaker, “Rogers told protesters: ‘No Justice, No Peace. I understand that. Do Black lives matter? Yes. I understand that, as well.’”
Speaking to Thomas’s family, “he told them ‘it happened before my watch.’”
YES! Weekly also asked in that email, now that the death of a LGBTQIA+ woman of color happened on Roger’s watch, does he feel the same way?
In a phone call on Oct. 27, Poag said responded to these questions by saying that the sheriff would make a statement after the details were released to the public.
When asked if she saw the events from the body camera footage, Maquaito replied, “no, I haven’t seen it yet. I just asked if I could see it, and she told me that she would have to go through the police department. I am in the process of getting a lawyer to do all of this.”
When the officer asked if she had any questions, Maquaito said no because she said she was still in shock.
“This is really the first time that I ever had to go through something like this—I really, really don’t know what to say, so I don’t want nobody to have to use nothing against me,” Maquaito said. “I asked different people because I didn’t get the end discovery until a couple of days ago when I found out that they found her on the side of the road and passed out.”
Maquaito said she didn’t know where Anna was coming from or going during the early morning hours of Oct. 16.
“All I was told was that she was going to get something to eat and that she was with her friends,” Maquaito said.
Even though she and Anna were working on mending their relationship and living in two different households, they were still married and loved each other, Maquaito said.
“We were doing family meals on Sunday and trying to work out our communication because her alcoholism was really awful for me,” Maquaito said. “We were trying to fix it to where we could be in the same room together.”
Maquaito said that she met Anna while they were in the same homeless program in 2017.
“She was in her own situation, and I was in my own situation, and then we met together like that,” she said. “There was financial trouble for both of us.”
After being together for a year, Anna and Maquaito decided to get married on Oct. 5, 2018, and in January 2019, they got their own apartment together.
“She was outspoken, friendly, and she loved her family,” Maquaito said of her wife. “She was very cheerful and very family-oriented.”
But Maquaito alleged that Anna’s family wasn’t supportive of her sexual identity, which she said, led to Anna’s eventual homelessness.
“That was really not something that they agreed with,” Maquaito said. “They were not supportive of her.” (Anna’s family could not be reached for comment.)
Maquaito described her relationship with Anna as “amazing,” noting that Anna was her first girlfriend, as she had only previously dated men.
“She loved my children, especially my grandkids who called her ‘Papa,’” Maquaito said, adding that her children and grandchildren also loved Anna.“We were supposed to be taking the kids to the beach. My mom is also deceased, so we were going to let off some of my mom’s ashes, and now this is what I have to face.”
Maquaito expressed her distrust for police after learning about Anna’s death.
“I feel like our police system really sucks bad,” she said.“I really don’t even know what I would say to the police right now; I have no words for them. I wish they would have took her to the hospital; she might still be here.”
When asked how she felt law enforcement handled Anna’s arrest, Maquaito thinks they could have done way more.
“If they caught her on the side of the road, I feel like they should have taken her to the hospital because she wouldn’t have gotten to that stage,” she said. “Maybe something could have been really, really wrong with her, especially with the fact that she was stumbling.”
Maquaito started a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of Anna’s cremation.
“I don’t have any life insurance policy, so I am trying to get as much help as I can,” she said. “I have no income right now, and I am also disabled and trying to get on disability. I just had back surgery and two [other surgeries], so I cannot work. Her mom doesn’t want to help because of our situation that we were gay married. I don’t have any help at all, so that is what the GoFundMe page is for.”
Maquaito said that Anna had depression and was struggling with body-image issues surrounding her weight, which led to her alleged drinking problem.
“I wish I could have at least had a chance to say I loved her, and I wish she was still here, to be honest,” she said. “For everybody that thought that we really fell out, we were really trying to work it out.”
Maquaito hopes those struggling with depression will get support.
“They should talk to someone if they were really struggling like that and not hold it in,” she said.
For more information about Maquaito’s campaign for Anna’s home-going, visit the GoFundMe account.