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The death of a 26-year-old Murray County, Georgia, jail officer was ruled an accident by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's medical examiner.

Michaela Smith was hospitalized in July after she was exposed to pepper spray during a tactical training session.

The training was June 29 and, after coming home, Smith said she was dealing with shortness of breath, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, swelling in both her face and hands and headache symptoms.

At the hospital, she was given fluids and Benadryl and eventually sent home.

The next morning, Smith was feeling similar symptoms, according to records.

She was taken to Erlanger hospital on June 30 and admitted to the intensive care unit. There she was unresponsive to commands and conversation and had poor motor function.

Smith was given an MRI on July 2 and it showed she had a blood clot, Whitfield County Coroner Greg Bates said.

Her condition did not improve and she died on July 3.

Bates said the day before the pepper spray incident, Smith was in a different training session and was kicked in the back of the head as part of a drill.

He said Smith came home after the defense attack training and told her father about the kick. Bates said Smith wasn't complaining about the pain, but was simply recalling her day.

The autopsy stated that the role of the pepper spray in Smith's death is unclear, but it likely was not the cause of the swelling and stroke-like symptoms. It also stated that a "pre-existing structural abnormality" could not be excluded.

Smith graduated from Southeast Whitfield High School in 2011 and got her degree in criminal justice from Dalton State College in 2017. She had been working with the Murray County Jail for six months before she died.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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