NAACP reopens investigation into Lincoln County inmate's death

By: Domonique Benn
By: Domonique Benn

August 16, 2006

A grand jury and the GBI found no criminal wrongdoing in the death of 20-year-old Gabriel Davis.

In February 2005, Davis was found hanged in a holding cell in Lincoln County.

Now, state NAACP leaders are in Lincoln County demanding new answers.

The state of Georgia's NAACP is not satisfied that 20-year-old Gabriel Davis committed suicide in his jail cell, and the organization says it is not going away until it finds answers.

Black residents in Lincoln County gathered in prayer today.

They are convinced that a 20-year-old black man by the name of Gabriel Davis did not hang himself in a jail cell.

State NAACP leaders say they find Gabriel's death questionable.

"We are not satisfied with the report that Gabriel Davis committed suicide," said Georgia NAACP president Ed DuBose.

"We are just trying to make sure everybody is treated equally, and we are making arrangements so that everybody lives a good and fair life in Lincoln County," said Lincoln County NAACP president Emma Smith.

The hanging happened in February of 2005. Sheriff Gerald Lawson had only been sheriff one month.

Now he welcomes the NAACP, but says the final truth has already been told.

"During that time they put him in a holding cell where he would not hurt himself," Sheriff Lawson said.

But residents want to know why Davis was allowed to have a belt in a holding cell.

The NAACP used the jail where Davis died as the backdrop for their news conference today.

An autopsy shows Davis had alcohol and drugs in his system.

"He was not coordinated enough, in my opinion, to latch a belt around his neck and hang himself high in the jail," DuBose said.

"I am 100 percent sure in my mind that Gabriel Davis hung himself in jail in Lincoln County," said Sheriff Lawson.

At the time of Davis' death, deputies were called out and no one was standing over him.

They believe he committed suicide while unsupervised.

Since the hanging, Sheriff Lawson has made adjustments to policies and procedures to make sure inmates are monitored at all times.

Today was the first time state NAACP president Ed Dubose met Sheriff Gerald Lawson.

He says he expects to keep up the dialogue between the two as the NAACP searches for answers.


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