A pretrial detainee at an infamous jail in Atlanta, Georgia, died on Saturday ― four days after filing a complaint accusing deputies of excessive force.
Jail officials said that a detention officer found Samuel Lawrence, 34, unresponsive in his cell during dinner rounds Saturday. He was taken to the Grady Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The Fulton County Jail is being investigated by the Justice Department and has recently garnered media attention as the site where former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants were recently booked and released in the Georgia election interference case.
Lawrence’s cause of death is still unknown, but the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said that the local medical examiner’s office will perform an autopsy and the Atlanta Police Department will be conducting an investigation.
His death marks the fourth one this month and at least the seventh of this year at the jail. There have been more than 60 deaths from 2009 to October 2022, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In the complaint filed on Aug. 22, the individual lists several instances of abuse, harm and poor conditions, which he claimed are in violation of the 4th, 8th and 14th Amendments.
The man said that “deputies used excessive force by kicking me in the head, stomping [on] my hands while in handcuffs and wrongfully pepper spraying [me].” He also said a deputy “failed to protect me from physical abuse [by an inmate] which led to my ribs being bruised.”
In the complaint, he notes he was being held in an isolated cell with no water, limited food to “shorten” his calories and a toilet that didn’t work, and that he hoped to “see some justice, peace [and] sanity” as he is “still suffering from injuries.”
The man had been in jail since December on a second-degree arson charge, initially without bond. He eventually received a bond of $30,000 that his attorney was attempting to get reduced. The individual’s hearing would have been next month. He was never convicted of the charge.