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Seven men have died at the jail since December 2018: Reginald Wilson, Jessie Myles, Bradley Emory, William Kocour, Steven Davis, Kevil Wingo and Christopher Hart.
Five of the men died of natural causes, autopsies concluded, but Davis’s death was classified as undetermined and Hart’s remains under investigation. The deaths have sparked criticism from residents and families, local activists and civil rights organizations, which are calling on Warren to address their concerns about medical care for inmates and jail staffing levels.
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One of those organizations is the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, which said any investigation into the facility’s operations “should be overseen by a separate constitutional office with an independent examiner.”
“We stand steadfast in our original call for transparency and accountability into the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office,” Christopher Bruce, political director for the ACLU of Georgia, said Friday.
Wade and Warren have met before. Wade represented the sheriff in March during a hearing before the Cobb County Board of Elections on allegations made by former Democratic challenger Jimmy Herndon that Warren didn’t notarize his original qualifying documents. Those charges were tossed when it was determined the original documents had been notarized.
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Wade said he was asked by Chief Deputy Sonya Allen, a former classmate, to represent her boss at the hearing because the county attorney’s office was unable to do so.
“There is no apparent conflict of interest,” Wade said. “The only thing I can say is that we are an ethical firm. We have a reputation for being zealous advocates for this community and our clients. We are fair, we are honest and I challenge anyone to bring up an instance where we’ve not been.”
Wade also told the AJC that he took two tours of the jail last year and said he found nothing out of the ordinary.
Attorney Timothy Gardner, who was hired by the family of Kevil Wingo to look into his death, said he sees Warren’s actions as a political move “so the sheriff can make the claim of transparency while hiding behind a stone wall.”
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“I find it hard to believe that Mr. Wade’s firm can take on the task to investigate the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office’s conduct over the last five years without compensation,” Gardner said. “There is no way that a substantive and reliable report can come from this cursory review at best.”
Gardner said he expects the report will exonerate Warren and will find “much of nothing from the nothing that will be investigated.”
“I hope Mr. Wade proves me wrong and unveils the systemic racism that transfers from our police departments to the jails where citizens wrongfully die,” he said.