There is a new case of a Black woman turning up dead in her jail cell after what appears to be abuse and neglect from prison guards and local police.
Wickie Bryant was a mentally ill woman being held in the mental wing of the Atlanta City jail. On Oct. 13, Bryant was found dead in her cell; the autopsy revealed that she passed from issues brought on by diabetes. The examiner in the case, Karen Sullivan from the Fulton Country Medical Examiner’s Office, found that Bryant had been expired in her cell for hours. Bryant’s body was already in rigor before anyone found her.
The fact that she was left alone for as long as she was is highly problematic for the jail, as Bryant was supposed to be checked on by a guard each hour of her stay.
Even worse, the investigator from the medical examiner’s office, Betty Honey, says that Bryant had been staying in a part of the wing where the lights had stopped working. The jail noted the problem, yet never repaired the light installations. This means that Bryant not only died alone, but that she was left alone in darkness as she took her last breath.
Bryant was imprisoned for disorderly conduct. She was arrested after she refused to leave an Atlanta hospital where she was being treated for her mental illness on sept. 14.
Mildred Sims, Bryant’s sister, commented to Atlanta’s WSB-TV saying: “What was she going through? That’s the hurting part. That’s what has really, really devastated our family.”
Bryant’s relatives have gotten an attorney, Stephen Fowler to investigate the matter as well. Fowler is concerned with whether Bryant was sufficiently medicated prior to her death. Sullivan says there isn’t enough information at her and the investigators’ disposal to find if Bryant could have been saved by earlier intervention from a guard.
“I can’t imagine what happened the last hours of her death,” Sims said. “It’s very, very hard. The Lord has given me strength to get through this and my family.”