'No man wants to bury his son' | Family of deceased Fulton County Jail inmate demands change

We're learning new information in the case of Samuel Lawrence, an inmate who was found unresponsive in his Fulton County Jail cell and pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital last month.


Wednesday, the attorney for Lawrence's family released preliminary findings from an independent autopsy.

FOX 5 also received a copy of the 16-page prisoner civil rights complaint filed by Lawrence just days before he died. In it, Lawrence claims deputies kicked him and stomped on his hands. He also says he was bitten by another inmate.

Tuesday, his family laid him to rest, about a week and a half after he was found unresponsive in his jail cell. 

Family members described Lawrence as "lovable" person who would do anything to help those who needed it.

"He was so lovable, wouldn't hurt a soul. If he saw he could help you, he would do it. We're going to miss Sam," Lawrence's cousin, Sheba Terrell said. "We are going to fight for justice for him. And we are going to make sure justice is served for him." 

Samuel Lawrence

"He's been taken away from me and no man wants to bury his son," said Lawrence's father, Frank Richardson. "You don't want to bury your children, no one wants to bury their children."

His family's attorney, Kenneth Muhammad, detailed the preliminary independent autopsy results findings. 

"The autopsy's preliminary findings as a final report is not yet issued, indicate that there was evidence of physical assaults that he had suffered, there were injuries to his chest and there were bite marks on his body."

Lawrence's family, their attorney, and activist John Barnett who is also the founder of True Healing Under God (THUG), are demanding change, including addressing issues with overcrowding at the jail, faster bond hearings, more mental health resources for intimates, and for the sheriff to step down "if he can't do his job."

FOX 5 reached out to the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office for the results of Lawrence's autopsy. We have not heard back. 

Atlanta Police tells us there is nothing new to release at this time on the death investigation.


We also received the following statement from the Sheriff's Office, from Sheriff Patrick Labat:

"The recent outbreak of violence at the Fulton County Jail is of grave concern but unfortunately is not surprising considering the long-standing, dangerous overcrowding and the crumbling walls of the facility that are literally being crafted into makeshift weapons that inmates use to attack each other and staff. We have had an unfortunate series of deaths this year that range from natural causes, to pre-existing health conditions, to homicide. 

"To mitigate the violence and overcrowding, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office is in constant negotiations with other detention facilities, including facilities out of state, to outsource inmates. In addition, we have been coordinating with other agencies to secure additional resources to assist with mass shakedowns and increase the cadence of these shakedowns in order to seize contraband. Since taking office on January 1, 2021, I have been very transparent about the urgent need for a replacement jail that uses smart technology and other common-sense cost saving measures that will relieve the dangerous overcrowding, improve security, provide humane detainment and most importantly save lives." 


An ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice, sparked by the death of another inmate, is focusing on the treatment of inmates within the facility.

As of now, the coroner has not released the autopsy report for Lawrence's death, leaving crucial questions unanswered.