Cobb inmate dies in hospital, becomes jail’s 3rd fatality this month

The woman became the third inmate at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center to die while in custody since May 3.

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

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The woman became the third inmate at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center to die while in custody since May 3.

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

A Cobb County inmate who authorities called suicidal was found unresponsive in her jail cell and died at a hospital Wednesday, officials said.

The GBI is now investigating the woman’s death at the request of the Cobb sheriff’s office.

Nicole Smith, 42, died in an Atlanta hospital just before 8 a.m. Wednesday, the sheriff’s office announced in a news release. The Atlanta woman was rushed there after Cobb County Adult Detention Center personnel found her unresponsive in her cell about 6 a.m.

According to an agency statement, Smith was placed on suicide check and was getting mental health treatment as part of a suicide prevention program in the Marietta lockup.

Deputies said she attempted to take her life during the round-the-clock wellness checks sheriff’s office staffers conduct every 15 minutes. Officers tried to save Smith’s life before taking her to the hospital, according to the release.

“Unfortunately, our detention center — and thousands of detention centers across the country — have become de facto mental health hospitals,” Sheriff Craig Owens said in the release. “I will be convening local leaders, including those who just toured the facility, to help identify solutions and hopefully find treatment options outside of incarceration.”

ExploreMan dies after being found unresponsive in Cobb jail cell

The sheriff’s office noted that Smith’s death came one day after news crews from Channel 2 Action News toured the jail facility along with Cobb’s chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Cobb Coalition for Public Safety.

Officials did not say how Smith attempted to end her life, specify when she was booked into the jail or say what charges she faced.

ExploreWoman, 28, dies while in custody at Cobb jail

She became the third inmate at the facility to die while in custody since May 3.

Joshua Capes, a 48-year-old Kennesaw man, was found unresponsive in his cell May 2 and later died in a hospital, the sheriff’s office said. He’d been booked eight days prior on felony drug possession charges.

Eva Kanja, 28, of Smyrna, died May 12 while undergoing a mental health evaluation at the facility, according to deputies. She’d been arrested April 29 and was being detained on a misdemeanor battery charge.

Cobb had a total of three inmate deaths in 2021.