Family calls on officials to investigate Clayton County jail detainee death

The jail didn’t inform them of his death or where his body was, the family says

After a Clayton County jail detainee died last week, his family is pleading for state investigators to review what led to his death.

Demetrius Alexander, 43, died on July 21, according to the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office. But his family wasn’t informed until a day later, when another inmate called to tell them the news, said his family’s attorney, Mawuli Davis. Alexander had been in good health previously, Davis said.

Now, the family is asking the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to review the case.

“If there are medical issues, [inmates] should receive a quality care and treatment,” Davis said. “It’s a concern when people die in jail from conditions that they would ordinarily survive if they were not incarcerated.”

Alexander was found convulsing on the floor of his cell at 2:30 a.m. on July 21, according to the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office death investigation report. He was transported to Southern Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later in his orange jail jumpsuit, records show. Hope Funeral Home kept his body until July 26, when it was transported to the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

The day he died, a sheriff’s office official said she would notify next of kin, the report said.

But it was a jail inmate who called Alexander’s family on July 22 to inform them of his death, Davis said. The jail confirmed the death that same day, Davis said. The family says they were never told where his body was being held. Jail officials also said that his death was asthma-related, but Alexander’s asthma had never been deadly, Davis said. The medical examiner’s report listed his cause of death as “undetermined.”

GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said that the agency is not currently investigating Alexander’s case. Clayton County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Kali Huitt told the AJC that the case was under investigation, but declined to answer any other questions, including who was conducting the review.

Alexander was originally arrested in May. Clayton County court records say he was being held in jail for counts of murder, aggravated assault and armed robbery.

Alexander isn’t the only Clayton County jail inmate to die this month. On July 15, the GBI announced that it had arrested and charged 22-year-old Jarvin Wallace for murdering his cellmate, 26-year-old Jaylan Goodman.

The jail has faced a series of problems with its treatment of those in custody. Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill is awaiting federal trial in October for allegedly violating the civil rights of seven jail detainees The government’s indictment says he punished detainees by strapping them into chairs. Hill has denied the allegations, but is currently suspended from his position.

Davis said he believes families of the incarcerated have cause to be concerned for their loved ones’ safety.

“These are individuals in jail who have not been convicted of a crime. They are innocent until proven guilty,” Davis said. “All lives should be protected.”