Two die at DeKalb Jail, including local mental health advocate

A map of DeKalb County, GA. Image obtained via Google Maps

DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office reported two inmate deaths since last week.

One of the people who died was a mental health and disability rights advocate who worked in Tucker but had recently left her job to seek treatment for her own mental illness.

The Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the incidents. According to press releases received from the Sheriff’s Office, there have been at least 10 deaths reported at the jail since 2015. This is the only instance where two inmates died within days of each other, according to the press releases reviewed by the Tucker Observer.

Officials at the Sheriff’s Office found Vernon Dennis Head, 48, unresponsive in his cell on July 22. He was pronounced dead following an unsuccessful emergency medical treatment. He’d been in the jail since January 2021 after being accused of making terroristic threats.

On July 25, the Sheriff’s Office reported the death of 55-year-old Decatur resident Nina Maureen Colman, who died in the infirmary. She had been in custody since July 19, 2022 and is accused of stalking, criminal trespass and simple battery. The Sheriff’s Office said the cause of death is under investigation in both incidents and said the incidents are unrelated. A call to the DeKalb Medical Examiner’s Office was unreturned.

The DeKalb County Police Department arrested both Colman and Head, but did not immediately provide incident reports that would shed more light on the circumstances of their arrests.

Colman was working for disABILITY LINK, an advocacy organization for people with disabilities based in Tucker. Her official title was Disability Rights, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Independent Living Specialist. Her boss, Executive Director Kim Gibson, first learned about Colman’s death when she was contacted by Tucker Observer. Gibson said Colman advocated for people with disabilities and mental health issues. She had recently left the organization to take care of her mental health, Gibson said.

“I am really in shock right now,” Gibson said.

The Tucker Observer is a community news website owned by Decaturish.comWe provide locally sourced news about Tucker, Clarkston and Stone Mountain.

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