Clayton County, Georgia: The grand jury is expected to consider the investigation into six former sheriff’s deputies who were released after dying in custody, a source said


Prosecutors investigating six former Georgia sheriff’s deputies who were fired for their involvement in the death of a man who was being held in a county jail last year will bring the case to a grand jury in the coming weeks, one with the said Investigation source trusted to CNN.

The deputies were released following the death in November of 38-year-old Terry Lee Thurmond, who was being held at the Clayton County Jail south of Atlanta. The county coroner ruled the death a homicide.

The Clayton County District Attorney’s Office, which has been investigating the case without public comment for several months, will likely refer the matter to a grand jury by the end of June, the source said.

Surveillance video of the November 28 incident shows officers appearing to be trying to stop Thurmond from falling from the second floor of the prison. A fierce fight ensues, ultimately ending in Thurmond’s death.

According to a review of the video and recordings obtained by CNN, Thurmond died just a day after his arrest and arrest on suspicion of trespassing at an airport and just over an hour after his encounter with prison officials.

Less than a month later, the sheriff’s office announced that it had fired some of its associates following an investigation into Thurmond’s death.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has completed its investigation into the case and has referred the case to the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office, agency spokeswoman Nelly Miles told CNN on Friday.

This was the first time the GBI publicly announced that it had completed its investigation.

“The GBI does not make any recommendations for such investigations. “The agents gather all the facts and turn over the full case files to the DA for next steps,” Miles said.

In addition, the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council is investigating former Clayton sheriff’s deputies Ellonte Johnson, Randy Gaddy, Dionte McCauley, Fred Denson, Derrick Doyle and Danilo Jones, the council told CNN.

This is the first time that the deputies will be named publicly. The council’s investigation is “unrelated to the criminal process” and relates to whether the former law enforcement officers would retain their accreditation to work in Georgia law enforcement, Chris Harvey, the council’s deputy executive director, told CNN.

CNN asked the six MPs for comment but received no response.

Prison surveillance footage provided to CNN by an attorney representing Thurmond’s family and a timeline of video compiled by the coroner’s office provide insight into the events leading up to Thurmond’s death.

The video begins around 7 p.m. Nov. 28 and shows Thurmond maneuvering under a railing and seemingly trying to throw or move over the edge of a walkway on the second floor of the prison, about 8 to 9 feet above the ground floor.

At least two other inmates intervene and appear to be attempting to stop Thurmond’s fall, prompting several deputies to respond.

Video appears to show officers and inmates holding Thurmond to prevent him from falling. Eventually, they manage to lift him over the railing and place him in the second floor hallway.

A county coroner’s schedule document said Thurmond remains “combative.” Finally, the video appears to show a police officer using a taser or similar device on him.

The deputies and Thurmond fight for several minutes until the deputies gain control of him. At this point, Thurmond is lying face down and “most/all officers appear to be resting their knees and body weight on him,” according to the coroner’s time document.

According to the coroner’s report and CNN’s review, this takes about ten minutes.

An officer near Thurmond’s head “appears to put one or more knees in Thurmond’s neck/shoulder area,” according to the timeline.

Thurmond’s last known movement was at 7:26 p.m., less than 15 minutes after officers first made contact, according to the coroner.

Civil rights attorney Thomas Reynolds, representing Thurmond’s family, said Thurmond was unconscious for at least 15 minutes before he was transported to a hospital by first responders. Thurmond was pronounced dead at hospital, records show.

CNN’s review of the video shows that a first responder began resuscitating Thurmond about 12 minutes after his last recorded movement.

“They choked him,” Reynolds told CNN. “That’s George Floyd 2.0, except six of them were on (Thurmond) for 16 to 18 minutes and they stayed on him long after he was lifeless and stopped fighting.”

According to Southern Regional Medical Center hospital records provided to CNN by Reynolds, emergency services workers noted that Thurmond arrived at the hospital in “cardiopulmonary arrest” after “apparently attempting to commit suicide by being thrown by jumped off a flight of stairs”.

“He was involved in an altercation with officials and was then verbally abused. “The patient fell on his stomach and then found he had no pulse and CPR was instituted,” hospital records said.

Reynolds said he disagreed with the assumption contained in the files that Thurmond may have attempted suicide.

“We also know that[Thurmond]has had a history of being diagnosed with mental health issues, and I think they knew that or should have known that,” Reynolds told CNN. “I’m not sure I agree with that characterization because the second floor he was on is only about 8 feet high and he had the option to jump down from there if he wanted to, but he did not.”

The attorney said that while it was difficult to be sure, the video appeared to show Thurmond had some type of mental illness.

“No matter what, it’s obvious that they didn’t handle this situation properly,” Reynolds said.

The case “is in my office and is an ongoing investigation,” Clayton County District Attorney Tasha Mosley told CNN in an email Tuesday, adding that she could not comment further.

The Clayton County Jail has been the focus of several complaints of inmate civil rights violations in recent years.

In October 2022, former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill was found guilty of six counts related to incidents in which prosecutors say he ordered inmates to be tied to a chair and kept there for hours.

About two years earlier, Hill was indicted on various federal civil rights charges for instructing prison staff to restrain pre-trial detainees in a bondage chair for an extended period of time in four separate incidents in 2020, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of georgia .

In April, Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff sent a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland citing substandard conditions and a lack of oversight in the US prison system. According to a copy of the letter obtained by CNN, Ossoff cited the Clayton County Jail as an example of a facility that fails to protect inmates’ civil rights.