• Recruit describes training day before George Ward's death

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    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is now looking into the death of a DeKalb County Jail recruit after a Channel 2 Action News Investigation and more whistleblowers have come forward.
     

    After several reports from Channel 2’s Erica Byfield, a fellow recruit is now speaking out about what happened.
     
    Courtney Gray says he's never publicly talked about George Ward's death because no one ever asked.
     
    A Channel 2 Action News investigation of Ward’s death uncovered information the DeKalb medical examiner’s office did not know existed.
     
    After reviewing video of training that took place a day before Ward’s death, officials changed his manner of death from “natural” to “undetermined.”
     
    “They worked that man to death,” Gray said.  “The special attention they gave him, it was too much.”
     
    Gray said they called Ward names, pushed him harder and he thinks they ignored obvious signs of distress.
     
    “They waited too late,” Gray said.  
     
    Channel 2 Action News launched an investigation into Ward's death after several jail insiders told us they were uncomfortable.
     
    Byfield found the sheriff's office never investigated Ward’s death. The sheriff didn't deny it either.
     
    “We don’t investigate those,” said DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann when Byfield confronted him about Ward’s death.
     
    When the medical examiner finally saw the video he changed ward's cause of death.
     
    Several sources off the record say the video doesn't tell the whole story.
     
    Sources told Byfield that Ward collapsed on the training field and the drill instructors told the recruits to pick up flowers and put them on Ward's chest like they were at his funeral
     
    “We were forced to,” Gray said. “Like he was in a coffin. That was weird because the next day we got the news that he had passed.”
     
    Gray doubts he'll ever forget that. Or what happened on a run. He said he and two other recruits carried Ward across the finish line. 
     
    “They said, ‘Don’t help him! Don’t help him, he's weak! He’s weak!’” Gray said.
     
    Looking back, Gray says what they experienced was harder than his military basic training.
     
    He hopes by speaking Ward's mother gets what she longs for -- closure.
     
    “It’s not about blasting someone. It’s about what happened. They didn't do enough to help that man,” Gray said.
     
    Gray told Byfield that several recruits with basic medical training tried to help Ward, but the jailers told them to leave him alone.
     
    He also said the jailers threw water on Ward after he passed out.


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