A detainee being held on a shoplifting charge died Thursday morning at the Fulton County Jail, the second in a week and the third death in a month.
The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a statement that Alexander Hawkins, 66, was found unresponsive in a medical unit cell at the Fulton County Jail, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Medical personnel tried to revive him.
The large number of deaths at the jail requires immediate action by Fulton County, Commissioner Khadijah Abdur-Rahman said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
“With the inmate death count rising so quickly that we can’t keep up, including two occurring within a week, it is evident that immediate action is required to address this distressing situation. While the need for a new jail facility is acknowledged due to structural issues, the current crisis primarily stems from operational shortcomings,” Abdur-Rahman said.
She said operational deficiencies including inadequate staffing, insufficient training, negligence in medical care, and the lack of mental health support are “key factors contributing to this alarming situation.”
External help may be needed to resolve the issue properly, Abdur-Rahman said.
Hawkins was arrested July 31 by the Atlanta Police Department and booked at the Atlanta City Detention Center. After a municipal court hearing on Aug. 1, his case was bound over to Fulton County Superior Court and Hawkins was transferred to the Fulton County Jail on Aug. 5.
He had been granted a $5,000 bond on Aug. 7. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office will perform an autopsy.
The jail, located on Rice Street, is under a civil rights investigation launched by the U.S. Justice Department. More than 60 Fulton inmate died between 2009 and October 2022, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation.
Christopher Smith was found unresponsive by a detention officer last week in a medical unit cell. He was taken to Grady Hospital, where he died on Aug. 11. He had been in jail since October 2019 without bond on charges that included armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and third-degree cruelty to children, the AJC reported.
Montay Stinson, 40 was found unresponsive with “no obvious signs of injury” in early August. He had been in the jail since October 2022 on a charge of second-degree burglary.
In July, Noni Battiste-Kosoko was found unresponsive at the Atlanta City Detention Center with “no obvious sings of injury.” Battiste-Kosoko had been in jail since May 20 on a misdemeanor bench warrant and was being housed in part of the ACDC that is controlled by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.
Battiste’s attorneys have demanded a $10 million settlement over her death, citing possible claims for negligence.
The DOJ launched the civil rights investigations into the conditions at the jail in July, citing the Sept. 13, 2022 death of Lashawn Thompson, a homeless and mentally ill man who was being held in the jail’s psychiatric wing. Fulton just approved a $4 million settlement in that case.
DOJ officials said there were credible allegations that the jail is “structurally unsafe, that prevalent violence has resulted in serious injuries and homicides, and that officers are being prosecuted for using excessive force.”
Fulton County is making plans for a new jail, which is expected to cost approximately $1.7 billion.