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Inmate Terry Lee Thurmond Death Ruled Homicide

terry lee thurmond

Terry Lee Thurmond was arrested and sent to a Georgia jail due to a trespassing charge and he would die the next days. According to reports Terry Lee Thurmond was admitted to the Clayton County Georgia jail after being arrested  on a criminal trespass charge at the airport.

The next day Terry Lee Thurmond was grabbed as he was leaning over the second rail at the jail and was grabbed by officers and pulled back to the floor. During the ongoing altercation Terry Lee Thurmond would be tased several times and would be on the grounds with up to five officers on him. Even though Thurmond was no longer combative officers would continue to kneel on his back and neck

Twenty minutes later Terry Lee Thurmond would briefly raise his head and that was the last time. The coroner would rule that Thurmond had died from a cardiac arrest and the manner of death was homicide. The officers involved were all fired and now the wait is on to see if they will face criminal charges

Terry Lee Thurmond More News

 A man in custody at the Clayton County Jail hung from a second-floor railing in a struggle with jailers, was shocked by a stun gun and left lifeless for 20 minutes before emergency medical officials arrived, according to a newly-released timeline from the medical examiner’s office.  

In a struggle that lasted an hour, documents are now depicting new details that led to Terry Lee Thurmond III’s death, which the medical examiners office has ruled a homicide. 

Thurmond was arrested and booked into the jail on Nov. 27, 2022, on a criminal trespass charge at the airport. He died the following day, after only being in jail custody for the day, records show. 

When he was booked into the jail, Thurmond’s medical records showed a mostly clean bill of health with no history of suicide or self-injurious behavior. Records with the jail noted that he had no mental health history either. Thurmond’s medical history shows he had high blood pressure when he was admitted into the jail — he was taking medication for hypertension — and was booked with a cast on his right arm due to a fracture.

Medical examiner records show, later, that Thurmond suffered cardiac arrest during his struggle with jailers and inmates.

On Nov. 28 around 7:10 p.m., a timeline provided by the medical examiner’s office shows that’s when he started to hang over the second-floor railing. Inmates grab his foot and call for assistance as Thurmond is hanging onto the rail, according to surveillance video from inside the jail. 

Video showed officers would get a grip of Thurmond by his jumpsuit and lift him back onto the floor. Three officers are seen trying to subdue Thurmond, and it appears a Taser is used on him. He leans on the railing after the supposed shock and it seems he is pushed to the ground.

After forcing Thurmond to break his hold of the railing, five officers are left trying to subdue Thurmond. At 7:19 p.m. it is recorded that the 38-year-old is face down as “most/all officers appear to be placing their knees and their body weight on Thurmond,” the medical examiner’s timeline reads. 

At 7:20 p.m. it is recorded that Thurmond has not moved. 

Video shows at this point a jailer has a knee by Thurmond’s neck and shoulder area; another was holding down his legs by his ankles that are crossed together. Other officers are putting weight on his back to keep him face down on his stomach. This is all also recorded by the medical examiner’s office, records show.

“At no point in time do they make an effort to de-escalate the situation from what we can tell,” Attorney Thomas Reynolds, who is representing Thurmond’s family, accused. “There was brute force aggression, slamming him to the ground and pinning him down for what appeared to be 20 minutes before rendering aid. At that time, he was already gone.”

Thurmond’s last recorded movement was at 7:26 p.m., when he “barely raised his head up,” before lowering it back to the floor, as noted by death investigators.

“It’s disheartening to see that we continue to have these types of issues within law enforcement, even after George Floyd,” Reynolds said about the video.

Ten minutes later, there do not appear to be signs of life. A Clayton County Sheriff’s Office witness statement said, “he was laying face down with his hands cuffed behind his back,” with flex cuffs due to his cast before CPR is started by a nurse a few minutes later.

Thurmond would leave on a stretcher to Southern Regional Hospital at 8:12 p.m. where he was pronounced dead.

Southern Regional Hospital accounts cite the patient was brought to them because he “was trying to commit suicide by jumping off a landing,” records show, adding he suffered cardiopulmonary arrest.

A Clayton County death investigation report reveals at the hospital, stun gun sites were found on his left arm and hip and Thurmond had a bruise on his left leg. Investigators also discovered he had a medical history of bipolar, paranoid schizophrenia and hypertension diagnosed at Grady Hospital and he was not taking prescribed medications. There are no jail medical records of his history with bipolar or paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis or a list of medications, meaning it may have not been disclosed or recorded at the time of Thurmond’s jail booking.

Reynold’s said this was an oversight and caused the shortfall of the jailers’ response to Thurmond’s actions that day.

“If people are dealing with mental health issues, make sure there’s someone on scene that has training on dealing with mental health issues,” he said.

Following his death, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was asked to step in. 

Meanwhile, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office conducted an internal investigation which resulted in the firing of “all employees directly involved” for policy violations, Chief Deputy Levon Allen said last month. He clarified that the jail’s policies and procedures weren’t followed when officers were interacting with Thurmond.

Even after multiple requests, the sheriff’s office has not released the names of the employees involved. The GBI has not yet said why jailers chose to use a Taser on Thurmond.

“This was a pre-detention center,” Reynolds said. “He hadn’t been convicted of a crime. Many people are at that jail that will walk home free of any charges here. They’re innocent down there until proven guilty.”

So far, the medical examiner’s office said Thurdmond’s death was a homicide, meaning “the death was caused by the actions of another person.”

Reynolds said this doesn’t really provide closure for Thurmond’s family.

“They’re devastated. It’s one thing to know your family was killed at the hands of law enforcement, but to see it on video, how they just sat on him — close to 100 pounds, we estimate, on top of him, on his back for 15, 20 minutes — just while he struggled to breathe,” the attorney said. “It’s heartbreaking.”

The case is still being investigated by GBI. It is unclear how many, if any, of the jailers will face charges in Thurdmond’s death.

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