Autopsy: Cobb inmate complained of chest pain before her death

File photo of the Cobb County Adult Detention Center. Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: � 2019 Cox Media Group.

Credit: � 2019 Cox Media Group.

File photo of the Cobb County Adult Detention Center. Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Stephanie Nicole White was admitted to the Cobb County Adult Detention Center’s infirmary during the afternoon of June 19 for chest pain, shortness of breath and vomiting. Hours later, she was the first inmate to die in her cell this year.

White, 39, who had been incarcerated at the jail since late May, died from coronary artery disease, a buildup of plaque in the arteries that affects blood supply to the heart, the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office said. Contributing factors in her death were acute myocardial ischemia, a condition that occurs when blood flow to the heart is reduced, and an enlarged heart, the office said.

White, also known as Stephanie Nicole McClendon, is the eighth person to die in-custody at the Adult Detention Center during the last two years. The seven other detainees who have died at the jail since December 2018 were all men: Reginald Wilson, Jessie Myles, Bradley Emory, William Kocour, Steven Davis, Kevil Wingo and Christopher Hart.

Five of the men died of natural causes, autopsies concluded, but Davis’s death was classified as undetermined. Hart died in November 2019 from a ruptured spleen, which occurred when he fell in his cell, according to a report released by the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office. His death was classified as accidental.

The deaths have sparked criticism from residents and families, local activists and civil rights organizations, which are calling on Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren to address their concerns about medical care for inmates and jail staffing levels.

RELATED | Families, activists call for outside review of Cobb jail operations

Sheriff’s office spokesman Glenn Daniel said the agency declined The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s request for comment “out of respect for Ms. White and her family.”

According to White’s autopsy report, her toxicology screening was also negative for drugs and results from a nasal swab show she did not have COVID-19.

White had been incarcerated at the jail since May 26 following an arrest on felony aggravated assault and other misdemeanor charges. She told intake staff that she did not have any major health problems.

On June 3, she reported chest pain and was evaluated at the jail’s infirmary, the report states. The results of an EKG were normal. Six days later, she complained of oral pain and told medical staff that she had a history of an “unspecified heart murmur,” according to the report.

White was back in the infirmary on June 12 with chest pain and returned to her cell once the EKG results were normal. Around 2:30 p.m. on June 19, she was admitted to the infirmary for chest pain, shortness of breath and vomiting. The EKG was normal and she was again released. White was found unresponsive in her cell around 10:10 p.m. that night. The Cobb Medical Examiner’s Office classified White’s death as natural.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease in America. The CDC said heart disease was the leading cause of death among women, both Black and white, in 2017.

Amid the community outcry over the number of deaths and conditions that activists describe as unhealthy at the jail, Sheriff Warren brought on Marietta law firm Wade, Bradley & Campbell to look into complaints over the use of force, racial biases and discrimination and allegations of neglect dating back five years.

Attorney Nathan Wade said his review is still active and he’s getting a “very good response” from the community. Wade said he’s received many letters and emails from people in response to his inquiry, and is following up on those leads.

“It’s going to take some time, but we are working on it,” he said.