More than 30 people showed support to three Chattanooga-area families who gathered at the Eastdale Village Community United Methodist Church on Friday night to talk about the loss of their loved ones after allegedly suffering medical neglect, two at the Silverdale Detention Center and one at the Hamilton County Jail.
"They don't have enough people to watch over these inmates," Devonte Brown, DaQuarrius Brown's brother, said as he held back tears. "They don't have enough nurses to care for these inmates. They don't even have the medications to give the inmates ... my family, we're hurt."
DaQuarrius Brown, 23, who was HIV positive and had asthma, had been transferred to Silverdale from the Knox County Jail. Brown was arrested in Knox County, accused of stealing candles and lotions from a Bath & Body Works. He was released into the custody of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office on assault and burglary charges Dec. 9, 2021.
Brown was rushed to Erlanger hospital from Silverdale after three months. Medical records stated Brown was not receiving medication for HIV or asthma during the time he was at the facility. Brown, who had been released on an own recognizance bond while at Erlanger, was pronounced dead at the hospital May 26.
"We're trying to get that place shut down," Devonte Brown said of Silverdale. "People are so scared to come and talk."
J. Matt Lea, spokesman for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, said in an email to the Chattanooga Times Free Press that Silverdale has a contract with the Alabama-based medical provider Quality Correctional Health Care, whose staff is available to provide medical assistance and care to incarcerated people 24/7 throughout the year.
"Every inmate who enters our jail must be given a physical to identify any pre-existing medical issues and what medications are necessary to support the inmate's health needs," Lea said. "In addition to this, inmates who become sick or injured are reviewed by medical personnel as needed, and if sufficient medical care cannot be provided on-site, they will be transported to an outside medical facility as necessary."
The Sheriff's Office has reported 10 in-custody deaths since 2019. Six of those have been ruled death by natural causes, one ruled a homicide, two ruled accidental deaths and one yet to be determined as authorities await an autopsy report.
"We are here because of the lack of physical and mental support," LaSha Rockymore, Devonte Allison's sister, said about why she was participating in the panel.
Devonte Allison, 29, died in 2018 at a hospital while in custody. Rockymore said she and her mother, Rachel Meadows, learned Devonte was at the hospital when a doctor called to suggest a surgery and medical procedure during which doctors would have to drill into his skull.
Allison, who, according to his mother, only suffered from sickle cell C and never had a seizure before, reportedly began having a seizure before he was rushed to the hospital, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office.
Allison, prior to his death, was in custody at the Hamilton County Jail. At the time, the Sheriff's Office did not run Silverdale, which instead was operated by a private company. The Sheriff's Office took over operations there in December 2020.
Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Wellington, Florida, lists sickle cell C disease as a genetic disorder that is passed along from parents to their children, causing "mild anemia, tiredness or weakness and occasional pain in the arms, legs or back."
"He'd sometimes get pain in his arms, but it would go away if he drank water," Rachel Meadows, Allison's mother, told the Times Free Press.
"Just because you're incarcerated doesn't mean all your rights have to be stripped," panel moderator Kenneth Fuller said.
Ashley Jackson and Marshon Grissom said their father, Abraham Jackson, was rushed to Erlanger from Silverdale and died of an E. coli infection, according to the medical staff.
"They released him to Erlanger," Grissom said. "They did all these types of tests, and they couldn't tell me what was wrong and finally came up with E. coli."
Abraham Jackson had been at Silverdale since March and was rushed to Erlanger in September after weeks of feeling ill, according to Ashley Jackson and Grissom.
"We bring awareness of how they died, but we celebrate how they lived," Eastdale Village pastor Charlotte Williams said. "Let us not rush to the language of healing. Let us not rush past the loss of mothers, fathers and children."
KING DAY EVENTS
Friday’s community forum was part of a week-long series of events leading up to Martin Luther King Day, which is Monday. Here are additional events:
— Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Pi Omega and Zeta Kappa chapters will observe their annual MLK Day of Service with outreach to the homeless noon-1 p.m. Monday at Olivet Baptist Church, 740 E. M.L. King Blvd. Members of the international service organization will partner with the church’s Matthew 25 Ministry to provide to-go meals and backpacks filled with winter supplies to continue their commitment of “Soaring To Greater Heights of Service and Sisterhood.”
— Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, 3370 LaFayette Road, Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., is seeking volunteers for its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, scheduled 9 a.m.-noon Monday at the Recreation Field in Chickamauga Battlefield. This year’s project will focus on battlefield restoration, including the removal of exotic invasive plant species. Tools will be provided, but participants may want to bring their own gloves. Register at 706-866-9241, ext. 137. Additionally, Point Park, 110 Point Park Road, Lookout Mountain, Tenn., will offer free admission on the federal holiday.
— Cleveland State Community College is spearheading Cleveland, Tenn.’s MLK Unity March, which starts at 9 a.m. Monday from the Bradley County Courthouse, 155 N. Ocoee St. Donations of gloves, hats and canned goods for The Caring Place will be collected at Broad Street United Methodist Church, 155 Central Ave. NW. Call 423-473-2397 for more information.
— Unity Group of Chattanooga continues its 53rd annual commemoration with daily events.
Sunday at 4 p.m. is the MLK Week Gospel Music Extravaganza, led by Willie McClendon, at Bethel AME Church, 2000 Walker St.
Monday begins with the third annual MLK Day Youth Leadership Symposium, “Building the Beloved Community Through Racial, Economic and Environmental Justice,” by the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga. The program is set for 10 a.m. at Bessie Smith Cultural Center, 200 E. M.L. King Blvd.
Monday’s main event starts with a parade and march at 1 p.m. from Miller Park down M.L. King Boulevard to Peeples Street. (Lineup begins at 12:30 p.m. beside the park on Georgia Avenue.) At 3 p.m. at Olivet Baptist Church, 740 E. M.L. King Blvd., the Rev. Jerry D. Marable, pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, will deliver the keynote address. The day’s theme is “Everybody Can Be Great Through Love and Service.”
— University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is taking registration for its MLK Day event, set for 12:30 p.m. Jan. 24 in the Fine Arts Center. Speaker Angela Davis is the distinguished professor emerita of history of consciousness, an interdisciplinary doctoral program and of feminist studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz. This year’s theme is “A Call for Civility.”
To register, visit utc.edu/angela-davis.
Contact La Shawn Pagán at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6476.