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Death row inmate who killed Texas cop in 2012 is found dead in prison cell

Death row inmate who killed Texas cop in 2012 is found dead in prison cell

  • Brandon Daniel, 33, was found unresponsive by a correctional officer at the Allan B. Polunsky Unit in Livingston 
  • Medics arrived but Daniel was declared dead less than an hour later. Officials say it doesn’t appear to be an act of foul play 
  • The former software engineer was imprisoned after he fatally shot officer Jaime Padron on April 6, 2012 at a Wal-Mart in North Austin 
  • Daniel’s attorneys had been appealing his death sentence as recently as 2018, saying lawyers missed that the former software engineer was autistic 


A Texas inmate on death row for killing a police officer was found dead in his cell Sunday.

Brandon Daniel, 33, was found unresponsive by a correctional officer at the Allan B. Polunsky Unit in Livingston at 4:25 am Saturday. Officials entered his cell and determined he wasn’t breathing. 

Medics arrived but Daniel was declared dead less than an hour later. Officials say it doesn’t appear to be an act of foul play.   

Daniel’s death will be investigated by the office of the inspector general and a medical examiner will perform an autopsy.   

The former software engineer was convicted in the fatal shooting of officer Jaime Padron at a Wal-Mart in North Austin on April 6, 2012. Padron was responding to complaint’s from employees about a potentially intoxicated man attempting to shoplift. 

Brandon Daniel, 33, was found unresponsive in his cell at a Texas prison Saturday morning. Within the hour, he was declared dead

Officer Jaime Padron (pictured) was shot dead by the drunk software engineer at a Wal-Mart in North Austin on April 6, 2012

Officer Jaime Padron (pictured) was shot dead by the drunk software engineer at a Wal-Mart in North Austin on April 6, 2012

The two struggled on the floor of the Wal-Mart when Daniel shot Padron, killing him. Police quickly arrested him and found a magazine with six hollow-point bullets in his pocket. He had $57 worth of food, booze and other stolen items in his backpack. 

Padron was a Marine veteran and the father of two daughters. He would later have a local elementary school named for him.  

In an interview recorded by authorities at police headquarters, Daniel told detectives he was in the Wal-Mart to steal vegetables but tried to get away when he saw Padron.

On three occasions, he was seen by witnesses saying ‘I killed a cop.’  

It took only an hour of deliberations for a jury to find Daniel guilty of murder in February of 2014 and just eight hours before determining to send him to death row. 

Jurors deliberated for an hour before finding Daniel guilty of capital murder in February 2014, and they then needed just eight hours of discussion before sentencing the former software engineer to die.

Daniel had sent a letter to a local judge a year later telling the court to waive any appeals in his case, admitting that he deserved his sentence.   

The Allan B. Polunsky Unit, the Texas prison where Daniel was living

The Allan B. Polunsky Unit, the Texas prison where Daniel was living

The Pollunsky Unit is a supermax prison used solely to house inmates on death row

The Pollunsky Unit is a supermax prison used solely to house inmates on death row

‘I want justice to be served, and I feel the punishment is appropriate for my crime,’ he wrote. ‘We are both interested in saving the taxpayer’s money, the time of all involved and in sparing my family and the victim’s family any more angst than necessary. And finally, I would like my time in prison to be the least amount as possible.’

However, Daniel’s attorneys continued the appeal process. As recently as 2018 his case was struck down by the Supreme Court without comment. 

Daniel’s lawyers argue that the judge improperly communicated with jurors. They also said that his trial attorneys acted deficiently by ignoring or missing evidence that Daniel was on the autism spectrum.

A diagnosis could have explained why he had no remorse and the use of drugs and liquor to self-medicate. That could have caused the jury to give him life in prison rather than the death penalty. 

There was no execution date set for Daniel.   

Padron had been a police officer in North Austin for three years but had worked as a cop for well over a decade.  

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