Family cries foul after teen’s alleged suicide in jail

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The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office of Professional Standards is investigating an apparent suicide by an inmate, according to DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office officials.

The inmate, 19-year-old Willie Lowery Jr., had been in the DeKalb County Jail since Jan. 4 on robbery charges.

 The family’s attorney, Mawuli Davis, said the family is asking the sheriff’s office to request the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to investigate Lowery’s death. According to Davis, the sheriff’s office has refused the request.

 Family members and Davis held a rally March 2 at Grady Hospital.

 “When he talked with his family, he was not speaking from a place of doom, but he did tell [his family] that he was concerned for his life,” Davis said.

 According to the family, Lowery said he was jumped by inmates a few days prior to his death. The family photographed his body post-mortem and said they were concerned with marks around his neck.

 “What his mother [Bernita Granville] is concerned about is the same entity that was responsible for his well-being is the same entity that will investigate his death,” Davis said.

 The sheriff’s office released a statement March 2 regarding Lowery’s death and stated they would offer no further comment.

 According to preliminary reports by the sheriff’s office, Lowery attempted suicide Feb. 23.

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 “We offer our condolences to his family and look forward to sharing the results of our investigation with them so that they can have closure after this unfortunate tragedy,” said DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann.

 Mann said he believes the sheriff’s office staff did all it could to help Lowery.

 “Instances of inmate death are never routine and we investigate each situation very thoroughly,” Mann said. “While preliminary reports indicate that no one else was involved, we will rely on the investigation to determine the facts of the case.  At this point, however, we believe that our trained staff performed as required and that we did all that we could to try to assist Mr. Lowery.”

 Lowery’s family said he was looking forward to the birth of his child which is to be this month.

 Davis said he’s disappointed in the sheriff’s decision to not ask the GBI to investigate.

 “There’s something fundamentally awry with that kind of approach,” Davis said. “[The family] wants an independent investigation and the sheriff has refused. We’re hopeful that the community will contact the sheriff’s department and let the GBI do the investigation. It’s as simple as that.”

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