Channel 2's Erica Byfield reports

GBI to investigate DeKalb sheriff recruit’s death

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has agreed to conduct a formal investigation into a DeKalb County sheriff’s recruit who died hours after strenuous training exercises.

DeKalb Sheriff Jeff Mann said in a statement Thursday that he asked the GBI to review the circumstances of George Ward’s death.

“I remain confident that the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office’s response to the incident was appropriate and met with our high standards of professionalism,” Mann said.

Questions about Ward’s death arose after Channel 2 Action News uncovered a surveillance video of training that took place the day before the 29-year-old recruit died.

In the video, Ward appeared to be vomiting, struggling to keep up with exercises and having difficulties breathing.

Ward, wearing a pink shirt during the training, was hunched over while drill sergeants pushed him to perform. His mother, Lorraine Fredericks, questioned whether the pink shirt was to single him out.

After reviewing the video, DeKalb medical examiners changed his manner of death from “natural” to “undetermined.”

The examiners had initially said he died on the job when he succumbed to a pre-existing heart condition.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.