Clayton County

Clayton Medical Examiner’s Office says inmate deaths not being reported by sheriff

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — Tracie Emerson says she wants information about how her son, Alan Willison, died on Jan. 26 while he was an inmate at Clayton County Jail after being charged with forgery, a charge he denied.

She’s apparently not alone.

Channel 2′s Mark Winne obtained a petition that indicates the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office is asking that a court order the Clayton County acting sheriff comply with a subpoena to produce documents and refers to Alan Willison passing away while in the custody of the Clayton County sheriff.

An attached subpoena to Sheriff LeVon Allen, Clayton County Sheriff’s Office or Custodian of Records includes a description of requested records, ranging from medical records to incident reports or statements.

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But the petition says on Feb. 1, the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office served its first request, a subpoena to produce documents, and that the Clayton County sheriff did not comply with the subpoena.

The petition also says that on Feb. 3, the Medical Examiner’s Office served its second request to produce documents and that the Clayton County sheriff did not comply with the subpoena.

The petition also says that on Feb. 7 the Medical Examiner’s Office served its third request and that “to date, the Clayton County Sheriff has not complied with the subpoena.”

Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office Director Brian Byars says while the petition shows a filing date of Feb. 14, it had not been served on Sheriff Levon Allen at last check, but none of the records the Medical Examiner’s Office is seeking had been provided as of midafternoon Wednesday.


Emerson says her son had been in the Clayton County Jail since late October, began complaining of illness in November, and on January 19, one week before his death, had been diagnosed by an outside urologist with stage 4 testicular cancer.

Channel 2 also obtained a memo which says a chief with Clayton County Sheriff’s Office has communicated to our chief investigator that they would no longer be contacting us, the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Ofice, in regard to in-custody deaths.

This has been made clear many times over in recent cases.

We turned to defense lawyer and former prosecutor Manny Arora for legal analysis.

“The statute specifically requires that any death that comes to the attention of a law enforcement officer has to be disclosed to the medical examiner in the city, county, or state that’s applicable,” Arora said.

The memo says, “until further notice, we are requesting that if you have any knowledge of an in-custody death involving the sheriff’s office, please contact our office immediately at our dispatch line.”

Byars said he can confirm the memo was sent to area hospitals, Clayton County police, Clayton County fire rescue, and the contract medical provider for the jail.

Byars told Channel 2 his office wanted to make sure it was doing everything it could to fulfill its legal responsibilities concerning in-custody deaths.

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Documents indicate the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office has been going to considerable lengths to try to get inmate death-related information from the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, but they are running into roadblocks.

The Medical Examiner’s Office has taken one case in particular to court.

Channel 2 has tried to give Sheriff Allen an opportunity to respond via phone, text, and email.

Byars says his office found out about Alan Willison Jr’s death from the hospital where he was pronounced dead after Willison, he understands, was found unresponsive in the Clayton County Jail.

Byars says it may turn out to be a natural death, but the office needs information before a ruling on the case and manner of death.


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