Clayton Jail detainee dies after struggling with officers

At least 27 of the lockup’s detainees have died since 2009

A 38-year-old Clayton County Jail detainee died Monday after he attempted to jump from the second floor of the lockup, struggled with detention officers who tried to stop him and was tased, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

During the struggle, the jailers restrained Terry Lee Thurmond III, 38, of Hapeville by “placing hands, knees and their weight” on him “while he was laying face down for about 10-15 minutes,” according to a Clayton County Medical Examiner office report, which does not say whether those actions played a role in his death. Minutes later, according to the report, Thurmond was found to be unresponsive. A nurse sought to revive him with chest compressions.

Thurmond — who had a history of bipolar, paranoid schizophrenia and hypertension — was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the report says. The GBI said an autopsy would be conducted.

Thurmond was charged with criminal trespass at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport this month and his bond was set at $3,000 Monday, court records show. He was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 13.

He graduated from Tri-Cities High School in East Point and had three children, said his sister, Laterral England. She described him as a fun-loving person who liked to dress nicely and dance. For him, she said, “family was everything.”

Credit: Family Photo

Credit: Family Photo

“Most importantly, I just want to know exactly what happened — if they could release some type of video or shed some light on the situation,” she said.

At least 27 Clayton jail detainees have died since 2009, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Among them were five who died last year, the Clayton jail’s highest annual death toll in more than a decade.

The Clayton Sheriff’s Office and Thurmond’s court-appointed attorney did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Last month, former Clayton Sheriff Victor Hill was found guilty in federal court on six charges that he violated the civil rights of jail detainees by strapping them into restraint chairs as punishment. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February.