Sheriff: Inmate dies after being found unresponsive in Fulton jail cell

Christopher Smith, 34, was found unresponsive Thursday evening, the sheriff's office said. He died Friday morning at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Christopher Smith, 34, was found unresponsive Thursday evening, the sheriff's office said. He died Friday morning at Grady Memorial Hospital.

A Fulton County Jail inmate is dead after being found unresponsive in his cell Thursday evening, officials said. It’s the second death to occur involving an inmate at the facility in the past few weeks.

The jail, located on Rice Street, is at the center of a civil rights investigation recently launched by the U.S. Justice Department. Between 2009 and October 2022, more than 60 Fulton inmates died, the highest total for any jail in Georgia during that time, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation.

Christopher Smith was found by a detention officer unresponsive in a medical unit cell, according to sheriff’s office spokeswoman Natalie Ammons. He was resuscitated by medical personnel before being taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where officials said he died Friday morning.

The 34-year-old had been in the Fulton jail since October 2019. He was being held without bond on several felony and misdemeanor charges, including armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and third-degree cruelty to children, records show.

The Fulton medical examiner’s office will perform an autopsy.

Another man who had been at the Fulton jail since October 2022 died July 31. Montay Stinson was found unresponsive with “no obvious signs of injury” in his cell, Ammons said. Jail and medical personnel attempted to revive the 40-year-old, but officials said they were unsuccessful.

In addition, on July 11, Noni Battiste-Kosoko was discovered unresponsive in her cell at the Atlanta City Detention Center with “no obvious signs of injury,” authorities said. The ACDC is located on Peachtree Street and is controlled by the Fulton sheriff’s office.

“She was premature when she came into this world and she left prematurely,” said the woman’s mother, Shashu Battiste. “She was a wonderful friend. She was there for you, if you needed her. And I need her now. And since she is not here, I need answers to why my child is gone.”

On Wednesday, Battiste’s attorneys sent Fulton a legal notice, citing possible claims for negligence against the county and demanding a $10 million settlement. In the final months leading up to her death, Battiste-Kosoko told police she was homeless after being released from a mental health facility, court records show.

The DOJ launched the civil rights investigation into the conditions in the Fulton jail in July, citing the Sept. 13, 2022, death of Lashawn Thompson, a homeless and mentally ill man who was being held in the lockup’s psychiatric wing. County commissioners recently voted 6-0 to approve a $4 million settlement in his death.

DOJ officials remarked that they had found credible allegations that the jail is “structurally unsafe, that prevalent violence has resulted in serious injuries and homicides, and that officers are being prosecuted for using excessive force.” Their investigation will also focus on medical and mental health care in the jail and look into whether the sheriff’s office is discriminating against people with psychiatric disabilities.

Thompson’s body was found covered with insects in the jail’s psychiatric wing. His cause of death was undetermined, according to a Fulton medical examiner report that highlighted a severe insect infestation in the jail.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.