CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — It’s taken weeks to get answers, but Channel 2 Action News has brand new information about the death of an inmate inside a local jail.
Channel 2′s Investigative Reporter Mark Winne spoke with the county medical examiner to learn more about the inmate’s death.
According to the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office Director Brian Byars, documents detail how Clayton County Jail inmate Alan Willison, 32, died on Jan. 26 and it was an unusual case.
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A death certificate lists the immediate cause of death as metastatic testicular carcinoma complicated by medical neglect.
“He did die from testicular cancer, but there was a lot of elements that probably contributed to how quick it progressed,” Byars said. “If he would have received a little bit more food, if he was in a little bit more sterile environment, if he didn’t have people beating him up, he didn’t have that level of stress. And if he got some relief from the discomfort that he had to suffer through, he might have had a better chance of survival. And if anything, he would have had a little bit more peaceful death.”
But Byars said it basically lists several significant contributing conditions: “inadequate and unhygienic living conditions while incarcerated, medical neglect while incarcerated, malnourishment while incarcerated, sequelae of physical abuse while incarcerated.”
“Do we know if Alan Willison would have survived stage four cancer were he not a Clayton County Jail inmate? We don’t really have a way of determining that in our office, but I do feel he would be much more comfortable in his last days if he was not there,” Byars said.
We featured Willison’s mother, Tracie Emerson, in a story last month.
She said Willison was in jail on a forgery charge he denied.
Emerson told Winne by telephone that she read the report today about how her son died and she broke down and cried.
One document says, “Witnesses and the deceased in emails detailed horrible living conditions, from black mold, non-working toilets, leaking pipes on beds, etc. This would not be a good environment for someone with a weakened immune system.”
It continues to say, “The deceased and witnesses stated they would only receive a minimum amount of breakfast at 4:30ish in the morning that you need to be awake to receive and the same goes with pill call. One turkey sandwich and lunch with no dinner. If the detainee doesn’t have the resources to purchase food from the commissary then they will go without enough calories and nutrients to function. Someone with this type of serious illness needs more food to have the strength to survive.”
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The record says, “Medical records detailed out at least a couple of assaults that witnesses concerned happened, one from staff, one from detainees. No incident reports given by CCSO.”
Byars said “CCSO” refers to the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the Clayton County Jail.
“What can we do to make sure that someone doesn’t have to live through this again?” Byars asked.
Byars confirmed one document indicates a number of medical requests from Willison.
Byars said the inmate was mistakenly listed in jail records as Williamson and that one entry was dated Nov. 23, more than two months before Willison’s death. The entry said, “Need to go to the hospital. I have major pain and something wrong with private parts.”
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Byars said it appears Willison was not diagnosed with testicular cancer until after he arrived in jail and that he did receive some treatment inside and outside the jail.
Byars said a couple of jail medical contractor nurse practitioners did a good job.
According to Byars, Willison was pronounced dead at an area hospital.
He acknowledged a sheriff’s office incident report said Willison suffered from severe medical issues in which he was diagnosed prior to his arrival to Clayton County Jail.
Byars said that incident report was erroneous and the report also listed the wrong hospital.
Winne tried by email, phone, and text to reach Sheriff Levon Allen for a response.
Channel 2 was told in February the Clayton County Commission approved on an emergency basis more than $3 million at the request of the sheriff’s office to fix locks, broken windows, inoperable toilets and other issues.
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