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'It could have been prevented' | Medical staff didn't take inmate’s complaints seriously, he died hours later, officer says

Clarence Manning's death inspired protests outside the DeKalb Co. jail in 2019. The public didn't know the circumstances of his death - until now.

Andy Pierrotti

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A DeKalb County detention officer said she believes a man’s death could have been prevented if the jail’s medical staff took his cries for help seriously.

Clarence Manning died in May 2019 while detained inside the DeKalb County Detention Center.

The officer’s claim was discovered by The Reveal, 11Alive’s investigative team, in records recently made available to the public.

According to internal affairs records, sheriff employees announced a “signal two” on the radio on May 11, 2019 just after 1:00 p.m. for Manning. That radio signal meant deputies needed the infirmary to immediately respond to an inmate having a medical emergency.

However, it would take multiple requests from frustrated sheriff employees before medical staff eventually arrived.

“He seemed shaky. In my opinion, he didn’t seem as if he would be able to sit up,” said Sgt. Sonya McKinney during an interview with an internal affairs investigator about the incident.

Yet, McKinney wasn’t the only sheriff jail employee concerned with Manning’s health that day.

Malaysia Richardson, another detention officer, stated “As I was rolling the wheelchair out of the room, he just started shaking. He wouldn’t stop shaking."

Credit: WXIA-TV

Security video recorded inside the jail shows the 64-year-old inmate appeared to be having a seizure while sitting in a wheelchair surrounded by multiple jail employees.

A short time later, the U.S. Army veteran went unconscious and never woke back up. According to the county medical examiner, Manning died of a strangulated indirect inguinal hernia, which means the blood supply to his intestine was cut off.

Manning’s sister, Shirly Nelson, said the county sent a deputy and a chaplain to break the news. “They were telling me they were doing an investigation and they would let us know, which they never did,” she said.

Four days after Manning died, dozens of people protested outside the jail, concerned with inmate treatment. They did not know the circumstances of Manning’s death at the time.