SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia sheriff said Thursday he arrested one of his deputies on charges of falsifying records and fired two others in connection with the death of a jail inmate.
Lee Michael Creely, 34, was declared dead after deputies found him unresponsive Sunday at the Chatham County jail in Savannah. Sheriff John Wilcher said he doesn't know how Creely died, but an internal investigation found three deputies weren't making their required rounds to check on inmates every 30 minutes.
The sheriff said investigators also found one of the deputies, Terence Jamal Jackson, made false entries in log books 10 times over a three-day period to make it appear he had completed his rounds when video from jail security cameras showed he had stayed at his desk.
“I’m not going to tolerate it,” Wilcher told a news conference. “We’ve got a job to do here and these people need to be treated humanely.”
Jackson was charged with a felony count of falsifying records. It was not immediately known if he had an attorney to represent him.
An attorney for Creely's family, Will Claiborne, called the firings and criminal charges “a step in the right direction.” But he also called on the sheriff and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to release all information they've obtained about Creely's death.
“The family has no idea how or why Mr. Creely died," Claiborne said in a statement. “Being kept in the dark has only served to deepen their hurt and anguish.”
Jail records show Creely, who was white, had been in jail since Sept. 3 for a probation violation. His record included arrests for drug offenses in 2018 and 2019.
Wilcher told reporters he's asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate Creely's death. He said an autopsy was conducted Wednesday, but results had not been released.
“As far as how the inmate died and what he died of, we don’t have a clue until the GBI and the coroner get their investigation done,” Wilcher said.