Two deaths at DeKalb County Jail in one week sparks investigation

An investigation is now underway after two deaths occurred in the same week at the DeKalb County Jail in Decatur.

Officials have not released a cause of death for 48-year-old Stone Mountain resident Vernon Dennis Head, who died on July 22, or 55-year-old Decatur resident Nina Maureen Colman, who died on July 25, but officials with DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office said the two deaths “are unrelated.”

According to officials, Head was found unresponsive in his jail cell on July 22 and was pronounced deceased following unsuccessful emergency medical treatment by on-site inmate health services and DeKalb Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Head had been in custody since his arrest on January 10, 2021 on charges of terroristic threats.

Six days after Head’s death, Colman died while in the jail infirmary, according to officials. Colman had been in custody since July 19, 2022 on charges of stalking, criminal trespass and simple battery.

“The causes of death in both, unrelated incidents are being investigated by the DeKalb Medical Examiner’s Office, and both cases are being investigated internally by the DeKalb Sheriff’s Office, Office of Professional Standards,” said officials. “No other individuals were involved in either of the incidents.”

DeKalb Sheriff Melody Maddox and Chief Deputy Randy Akies have discussed prioritizing inmate health and safety after multiple arrests have been made throughout the year due to illegal contraband, such as drugs, entering the jail.

“One of our priorities is keeping individuals in (the jail) safe,” said Maddox at a presentation for Operation Eyes in the Sky, which utilizes drones to keep illegal items outside of the jail. “We have people in here struggling with addiction, mental health disorders and other challenges.”

On July 25, Cynthia Williams, public information officer for DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, said officials “will make no further comment” on the deaths and investigation.

This is a developing story. For more information, visit www.dekalbsheriff.org.

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