Inmate’s family wants Cobb DA to investigate jail death

The family of a man who died last year at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center wants a criminal investigation into the death.

Attorney Timothy Gardner on Monday asked Cobb District Attorney Joyette Holmes to investigate the Sept. 29, 2019, death of Kevil Wingo. An autopsy concluded the 36-year-old died from complications of a perforated gastric ulcer.

Gardner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Wingo was in medical distress and “pleaded for his life” before dying.

“I can only imagine what was going through his mind knowing that he was going to die and no one was going to help him,” Gardner said.

The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to a request for comment from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cobb District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Kim Isaza said Holmes is reviewing Gardner’s request.

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In his letter to DA Holmes, Gardner says Wingo reported abdominal pain, sweating and vomiting and was admitted to the infirmary. Once there, Wingo repeatedly asked to go to the hospital over an eight-hour period, Gardner says.

“Instead, Mr. Wingo was ignored, removed from the medical infirmary and sent to a padded cell because the nurses had grown tired of his complaints and wrongfully labeled him as detoxing and drug-seeking,” the letter states.

According to the autopsy conducted by the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office, Wingo was removed from the infirmary after falling and stumbling on other inmates and placed in a padded isolation cell where he later was found unresponsive by Cobb sheriff’s deputies. Attempts to revive him failed, and he was pronounced dead Sept. 29 at an area hospital.

The Medical Examiner’s report states Wingo was undergoing detox, but the autopsy found no illicit substances in his body at the time of his death.

Wingo is one of nine detainees who have died in-custody at the Cobb Detention Center since December 2018. Seven of those inmates have been men: Reginald Wilson, Jessie Myles, Bradley Emory, William Kocour, Steven Davis, Kevil Wingo and Christopher Hart.

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The two remaining detainees are women who died this year. Stephanie Nicole White was found unresponsive in her cell and pronounced dead June 19. An autopsy concluded White died from coronary artery disease. Another woman was found dead Aug. 6 in her cell. The Cobb Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating that case, and her identity has not been released at this time.

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

Cobb NAACP President Jeriene Grimes said her organization has, over the years, received numerous calls and emails from people who were subjected to “unfair treatment” at the Detention Center. She is also calling for a complete investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths.

“This is a story we’ve heard too many times before,” she said.