Bradley Emory, a 33-year-old man from Marietta, was arrested Dec. 14 on drug charges. After about three months in Cobb County’s jail, he was declared brain dead, and his father wants to know why.
“Mr. Emory experienced a medical emergency while in custody and was transported by ambulance to the hospital where he later died,” said Sheriff’s Department spokesman Glenn Daniel. “Because of an ongoing and active investigation by the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office and the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office, we are unable to elaborate further at this time.”
Emory’s dad, Don Emory, said his son would call him from jail almost every day. He characterized Bradley as a decent man who had been dealing with difficulties in life and turned to drugs to cope.
“He was talking like he wants out so bad, he can’t stand it,” Don Emory said. “His main comment was he wanted to go see his momma. She had died about four or five years ago. … I said when you make comments like that, it worries me.”
Don Emory said he called the jail on several occasions to express those worries. Each time, he said, he was told they would put his son on suicide watch, and each time, he said Bradley Emory was placed back in general population the next day.
Don Emory said shortly before Bradley Emory’s death, he told him he and Bradley’s girlfriend had put together enough money to bail him out and had plans to get him into drug treatment.
But in the early hours of March 10, Don Emory got a call from a night duty commander at the jail, who told him his son was in the hospital and strongly advised that he go visit, though Emory said he would not tell him any more details.
At the hospital, Emory said a doctor told him Bradley was non-responsive and that she heard he had been found with a sheet around his neck.
“He’s not answering, not moving, not opening his eyes, not breathing,” Emory said. “They’ve got him on oxygen breathing for him, he’s not making no movements, no sounds. They said his heart stopped and they had to shock him in jail to get his heart beating back. It’s just blowing me away. ... I had just talked to him the other day.”
Don Emory said he stayed with his son the next three days. He admitted he “reprimanded” medical staff and tried to prevent them from treating Bradley because he felt the jail staff was not telling him the truth about what happened.
“I was still thinking in my mind he’s going to wake up, he’s going to come back,” Emory said. “I’d hug him, I’d talk to him.”
Doctors eventually declared Bradley brain dead and removed him from life support, though Don Emory said he does not believe his son was brain dead.
Emory also said he found it hard to believe his son committed suicide. But he said if that is what happened, jail staff should have been watching him more closely, especially given his warnings.
“If something’s happening, if he’s doing something to himself, they were aware he needed to be watched, they didn’t watch him that night,” he said.
Bradley Emory is not the first inmate to die in custody in recent months.
In February, another inmate, 31-year-old Jessie Daunte Myles of Douglasville, died in WellStar Kennestone Hospital. Myles was also in on drug charges. He was arrested Feb. 23 and listed as dead by Feb. 25.
“Upon displaying signs of physical distress, Mr. Myles was immediately provided medical assistance,” spokesman Daniel said at the time, adding more information could not be provided because it was under active investigation.
Myles’ girlfriend, Ashayla Knight, told the MDJ on Tuesday his family is still waiting to hear the conclusions of that investigation.
On Dec. 20, 54-year-old Reginald Wilson was arrested after a Cobb County police officer said he was found standing in the roadway in front of Cobb Hospital dressed in hospital scrubs with socks but no shoes. The officer reported finding an arrest warrant for a probation violation and took him to jail.
Nine days later, he was dead.
“Mr. Wilson was found unresponsive around 12 p.m. on Dec. 29, 2018, and was given immediate medical assistance,” Daniel said, adding that more information could not be provided as it was an active investigation.
Wilson’s sister, Monica Peltier, told the MDJ on Tuesday that she was also still awaiting the results of the investigation, adding she had spoken to a lawyer about the issue Monday.
Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association, said he is not aware of any organization that keeps track of deaths across Georgia jails. He said in a January count performed by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the most recent census, there were over 35,800 people incarcerated in 143 county jails in the state.
“If you look at that population, there are people dying in jail all the time,” he said. “The biggest source or cause, I think, has to be natural death from physical ailments. Most people incarcerated or detained in county jails do not come into a jail setting in good physical health in the first place. It is not uncommon to see people die in jail and prison.”