Last October, 32-year-old Alan Willison was arrested on a charge of forgery and he was sent to Clayton County Jail in Georgia, a detainment center notorious for numerous scandals. Three months later, he died on January 26.
Six weeks after Willison's death, many questions remain about the cause and circumstances of his death. Even the Clayton County Medical Examiner's Office, which has been responsible for investigating all deaths that take place in the jail's in-custody area, has been unable to provide answers to these questions.
The director of the medical examiner's office, Brian Byars, said in an interview that the sheriff is refusing to provide him with documents pertaining to Willison's case, as requested.
“When you don’t get all sides of the story or you don’t get all the information, it’s really hard to come up with a final conclusion of what happened,” he said. “It completely shuts us down from being able to come to a very well-rounded conclusion.”
According to Tracie Emerson, Willison's mother, who was on her way to work when she received a call from the hospital informing her that her son had died of a cardiac arrest, she said in an interview with The Appeal. After that, the jail called her and told her he had died from prostate cancer, which he did not have.
“So there was already conflict right there about what happened,” Emerson told The Appeal. “I just don’t understand a lot of this.”
There have been allegations of mistreatment of detainees by the Clayton County Sheriff's office for years. The same day Willison was booked at the jail, former sheriff Vincent Hill was convicted of strapping detainees into restraint chairs for hours in violation of their constitutional rights. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for Mar. 14.
According to Byars, the sheriff's office has refused to comply with three subpoenas asking for numerous documents, including incident reports and inmate messaging.
“I just hope that the public and the citizens of our county feel confident that we’re not going to rest until we get the full story,” said Byars.
Given the history of abuse at Clayton County Jail, the sheriff's failure to provide details about Allan Willison's death is both puzzling and incriminating, possibly indicating a pattern of abuse. What is Clayton County Jail trying to hide?
Source: The Appeal