Apr 5, 2024 - News

Fulton County Jail inmate fatally stabbed

Fulton County Jail exterior

The Fulton County Jail. Photo: Alyssa Pointer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A man detained at Fulton County Jail was fatally stabbed on Thursday, the facility's second inmate death of the year.

Why it matters: The overcrowded, deteriorating jail is under a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. There were 10 reported deaths there in 2023.

The latest: The Fulton County Sheriff's Office said inmate Edward Cherry, 36, repeatedly stabbed Leonard Fortner, 37, in their housing zone day room at 6:24pm.

  • Fortner was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead at 7:39pm.

Context: The sheriff's office said Cherry and Fortner were being held without bond.

  • Cherry has been detained on numerous charges, including aggravated assault and kidnapping, since April 5, 2020.
  • Fortner was arrested on Jan. 2 and charged with criminal damage to property.

Friction point: Fulton Sheriff Pat Labat wants the county to construct a new jail, or transport detainees to another jail in Georgia or out-of-state.

  • But community activists say a larger facility isn't the answer, and detainees being unable to afford bond and not facing indictments for months contributes to the lack of space.

By the numbers: Michael Collins, senior director of state and local government affairs at Color of Change, a racial and social justice organization, said in a statement on Friday that the Rice Street facility's population is down from 2,500 last summer to 1,700 currently.

Yes, but: Collins wants Fulton to end cash bail, clear its case backlog, and further reduce its jail population.

  • "Fortner's death is a consequence of inaction," Collins said.

What's next: Fortner's body will be autopsied, and Atlanta police are investigating his death.

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