3 inmates have died in 5 days in metro Atlanta jails

DeKalb jail death is latest incident
An inmate died Sunday at the DeKalb County jail, the sheriff's office said.

An inmate died Sunday at the DeKalb County jail, the sheriff's office said.

A 57-year-old inmate died Sunday at the DeKalb County jail, the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies were alerted to a medical emergency inside a housing unit and found Van Lebron Johnson unresponsive in his cell, according to the sheriff’s office.

“Emergency medical services were performed on site by jail and health services staff, and Mr. Johnson was pronounced deceased,” the sheriff’s office said in an media statement.

The cause of death has not been released and remains under investigation.

Johnson was taken into custody on Jan. 22 and charged with criminal trespass, giving a false name to law enforcement and interference with government property. He had been released on bond hours before the arrest, investigators said.

The inmate’s death is the latest string at metro Atlanta jails, where deaths have been attributed to medical emergencies, suicides and homicides, according to investigators.

On April 10, Travis Landrey was found unresponsive inside his cell and pronounced dead. According to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, the preliminary cause of death is suicide. Lifesaving measures were performed by jail and medical staff but the inmate was pronounced dead.

Landrey was being held at the jail on murder charges in relation to the death of Christopher Eberhart, who was shot and killed in a driveway on Peachtree Battle Road in Buckhead shortly after 7 a.m. on October 13, 2022.

Landrey was the third inmate to die this year in the Fulton jail, a sheriff’s spokesperson confirmed.

On April 4, 37-year-old inmate Leonard Fortner became the second death this year at the Fulton jail. He was attacked at 6:24 p.m. in a day room inside of the housing zone. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said Edward Cherry, 36, attacked Fortner and stabbed him multiple times.

Fortner was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:39 p.m.

Last Thursday, a Henry County inmate was found dead inside his cell. It was the fourth death involving a Henry inmate this year.

The 30-year-old detainee, identified as Sterling Jamal Williams, was discovered unresponsive with “a sheet around his neck and tied to his bed” during a cell check, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Williams had been in the jail since April 5 on a charge of disorderly conduct, officials confirmed.