Autopsy: Cobb inmate died from ruptured spleen after falling in cell

Christopher Hart, 45, died in November 2019 after experiencing a medical emergency at the Cobb County Jail.

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Christopher Hart, 45, died in November 2019 after experiencing a medical emergency at the Cobb County Jail.

The autopsy for the most recent inmate to die in the Cobb County jail has been released.

Christopher Lawrence Hart, 45, died in November from a ruptured spleen, which occurred when he fell in his cell, according to the report released by the Cobb County Medical Examiner's Office.

Hart is one of seven jail inmates who died between December 2018 and November 2019 while in custody at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center. The deaths have sparked criticism from residents and families, local activists and civil rights organizations, which have called on Sheriff Neil Warren to address concerns about medical care for inmates and jail staffing levels.

Hart’s autopsy notes he had a history of cirrhosis of the liver due to chronic alcoholism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, arthritis, gastritis and alcohol withdrawal related seizure disorder. He was booked into the jail on Nov. 14 after he was charged by Cobb police with probation violation, a charge that does not allow a release on bond.

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The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office previously said it “seeks to release low-risk inmates suffering from serious preexisting health conditions, but were unable to in this case due to Hart’s no-bond status.”

Hart was placed inside the jail’s infirmary due to his history of seizures and liver disease. Video footage observed by the Medical Examiner’s Office indicated Hart fell twice while in his cell, according to the report. On the first instance around 2:22 p.m. Nov. 16, Hart stood up and fell forward.

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“The other inmate in the cell helped him and sat him back down,” according to the medical examiner’s report. “A few minutes later he fell forward again. This time, Mr. Christopher Hart was unable to brace himself, and presumably he struck his abdomen during the event.”

Hart was placed on a gurney when he experienced “seizures” while in the infirmary, according to the report. He was transported to WellStar Kennestone Hospital where he reportedly had additional seizures. Doctors discovered he had a ruptured spleen and tried to repair the damage, but Hart was later pronounced dead.

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When asked for a comment, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Glenn Daniel noted Hart “promptly” received medical attention.

“Each case is independently evaluated and most have unique contributing factors,” he said. “As stated previously, we cannot chose which individuals are brought to jail, and some individuals have extenuating pre-existing health problems. We have a long standing agreement with Wellstar to provide professional medical care when needed.”

The six other inmates who have died in custody since December 2018 are Reginald WilsonJessie MylesBradley EmoryWilliam Kocour, Steven Davis and Kevil Wingo. Six of those deaths have been determined as natural causes. The death of Steven Davis was classified as undetermined.