Clayton County

Federal subpoena issued after inmate dies after struggle with deputies inside Clayton County jail

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — A family is still struggling to come to grips with the death of Terry Thurmond, III after an incident with officers while he was in the Clayton County jail in late November for a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge.

The incident climaxed with several officers on top of Thurmond for a prolonged period.

The attorney for Thurmond’s family, Thomas Reynolds told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Mark Winne that video shows Thurmond was facedown for more than 16 minutes.

Reynolds said on Friday he met face-to-face with U.S. Department of Justice representatives to push for action beyond a lawsuit that he is willing to file, if necessary.

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“Was the U.S. Attorney’s office represented?” Winne asked.

“Yes,” Reynolds said.

“Was the FBI represented at the meeting?” Winne followed.

“Yes, they were. But out of respect for them and the justice department, I’m not at liberty to disclose anything that was said,” he said.

Channel 2 Action News obtained a United States District Court Grand Jury subpoena that was sent to the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s office requesting unredacted records and the autopsy report in Thurmond’s case.

Winne got a statement from Tony Thomas, spokesperson for the FBI Atlanta division, reading:

“The FBI is assisting the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in its ongoing investigation. If it is determined there are federal violations involved, we will work with the United States Attorney’s Office for potential charges.”


“Once I got involved in this case, I realized that it was much bigger than just the Thurmond case,” Reynolds said.

Channel 2 Action News also requested certain information from Clayton County Medical Examiner office director Brian Byars concerning in-custody deaths of Clayton County Jail inmates since Jan 1, 2022.

Byars responded to our request with the following:

“This office is in the process of auditing our case files to be able to determine the exact number of in-custody reported to this office to include cause and manner of deaths for 2021, 2022, and 2023 to date. Since January 2022, it is our estimate that at least a half- dozen deaths have been reported to us and at least two of these are homicides, the rest are suicides, natural, or still under investigation.”

For a past story about the Thurmond case, Byars said the finding of homicide means the death was caused by another person or persons, but that it does not necessarily mean those responsible committed a crime.

He said that will likely be determined through an investigation by the GBI and its eventual presentation to the Clayton County District Attorney.

The incident involving Thurmond seemed to have started with an attempt to help Thurmond, whose family’s lawyer said had been diagnosed with mental illness.

“What’s giving you strength?” Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne asked Thurmond’s mother, Lavoris Thurmond.

“God,” Lavoris Thurmond said.

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