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GBI will not investigate deaths at DeKalb County Jail

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GBI will not investigate deaths at DeKalb County Jail

Photo provided by the GBI

DeKalb County, GA — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation will not investigate recent deaths at the DeKalb County Jail, the Sheriff’s Office and GBI confirmed.

Investigative reporting by Decaturish revealed a high number of inmate deaths at the jail last year. It’s unclear if the GBI was asked only to look into the most recent deaths or all deaths at the jail.

The DeKalb County Sheriff has asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to probe the deaths of two inmates who died within the last 24 hours at the end of December. But the GBI quickly confirmed that investigation is not happening.

“The GBI is not investigating,” a spokesperson for GBI said. “We have not investigated any deaths in the DeKalb County Jail [last] year.”

The GBI referred all questions to the Sheriff’s Office.

A spokesperson for the sheriff said, “The GBI has declined our request for an independent investigation, as it not their practice.   Our internal investigations by the Office of Professional Standards will continue.”

To date, Sheriff Melody Maddox hasn’t issued any statements about the deaths and declined repeated requests for an interview.

Records released by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office show that 2022 was the deadliest year for inmates since 2012, with a total of nine deaths reported. That’s two more than were officially announced by DeKalb County Jail officials.

The Sheriff’s Office provided data about inmate deaths for the last 10 years, dating back to 2012.

The records released by the Sheriff’s Office show that 2015 was the second-deadliest year on record for jail inmates since 2012. Some of the cases over the last 10 years were ruled a suicide by the medical examiner.

The proximity of inmate deaths in 2022 was also unusual, compared with prior years. On three occasions, the Sheriff’s Office announced that two inmate deaths occurred within the same week.

— The Sheriff’s Office reports that Lithonia resident Anthony Lamar Walker, 34, was found unresponsive in his jail cell on Dec. 26. He was later pronounced dead. On Dec. 27, officials at the jail found Clarkston resident Jackson Orukpete, 57, unresponsive in his jail cell. He was later pronounced dead.

— In August, the Sheriff’s Office reported the deaths of two inmates within a week. College Park, Georgia resident Michael Assevero, 65, was found hanging in his jail cell and unresponsive on Sunday, August 14, 2022. That same week, Snellville resident Viktor Ivanov Radunchev, 27, was found hanging in his jail cell and unresponsive.

— In July, the sheriff’s office reported two inmate deaths within the span of about a week. Stone Mountain resident Vernon Dennis Head, 48, was found unresponsive in his jail cell on July 22. That same week, officials found 55-year-old Decatur resident Nina Maureen Colman dead in the jail infirmary.

There was also a fourth instance of two inmates dying in the same week last year. The records request showed that inmates Taneeka Holmes and Kelly Ivory both died within two days of each other in May, deaths that were previously not announced by the Sheriff’s Office.

To read our previous story, click here.

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