In the Georgia capital of Atlanta, six Fulton County Sheriff’s deputies have been indicted on several charges, including felony murder in connection with the 2018 death of Antonio May, an inmate at the city’s Fulton County Jail.
The group, which consist of Arron Cook, Guito Dela Cruz, Omar Jackson, Jaso Roache, Kenesia Strowder and William Whitaker, half of whom are still with the department, are also facing a charge of aggravated assault, battery and violation of oath of office following the conclusion of a three-year investigation, the Fulton District Attorney’s Office said in a statement earlier this week.
“We presented the results of our investigation of the 2018 death of Antonio May to a Fulton County Grand Jury today, and the grand jury returned an indictment against three current and three former Sheriff’s Deputies for felony murder, aggravated assault, battery, and violation of oath of office,” DA Fani Willis said in a statement.
“It is now the duty of my office to prove these charges beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury at trial. My staff and I will continue to work to ensure that justice is done in this case,” Willis added.
In May 2019, May’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the jail and its health contractors, “Excruciating pain and suffering.” According to the suit, the family also claimed deputies yelled “Taser Tuesday” when May arrived at the facility on Sept. 18, 2018.
May was arrested that day on charges of criminal trespassing. The lawsuit says the Georgia man was having a mental health crisis that morning when he was caught throwing rocks at the windows of the American Cancer Society in downtown Atlanta.
He was said to be combative during his arrest. He was later taken to Grady Hospital for medical clearance, where he was diagnosed with substance abuse psychotic disorder, the lawsuit stated. A second medical screening by a paramedic at the jail showed that the man tested positive for amphetamines and that he was suicidal.
He was placed in his cell but soon got undressed and started pleasuring himself, according to a medical examiner’s report seen by local station Fox5. A jail supervisor ordered the Direct Action Response Team (DART) to enter his cell. A struggled began and May was reportedly beaten, tased twice and pepper-sprayed.
May was put in a restraining chair, where a spit mask was placed over his head and then taken in for shower for decontamination from the pepper spray. After a water hose was put to the man’s face to finish washing off the spray, he soon become unresponsive and later died, the lawsuit claims.
May’s grandmother, April Myrick, told local station WSB-TV that the indictment shows her grandson mattered. “Thank God this is being done,” Myrick said. “Thank God. He mattered. Everybody mattered.”
Meanwhile one of the attorneys for the family, Teddy Reese, told The Insider that the family was “extremely excited” to hear of the indictments, and is “very thankful” to the district attorney.
“It’s been a long time coming and they’re very excited,” Reese said. “They also know this is just the beginning and they are committed to seeing this all the way through, being there for every court date — showing that Antonio May was loved.”
Their lawsuit is currently pending in federal court. Fulton County, the county sheriff, 13 jail workers, the jail’s private medical care contractor, Naphcare Inc. and a Naphcare paramedic are all named in the suit.
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