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Inmate dies in Atlanta following incarceration at a jail under federal investigation for dozens of prisoner deaths

Christopher Smith, 34, was pronounced dead early Friday. He had been in custody since 2019. Five people have died in Fulton County custody this year.
The Fulton County Jail in Atlanta on July 10, 2020.
The Fulton County Jail in Atlanta in 2020.Paras Griffin / Getty Images ifle

ATLANTA — A Georgia inmate who was found unresponsive in a medical unit cell at a jail currently under federal investigation later died at an area hospital, authorities said Saturday.

Medical personnel resuscitated Christopher Smith, 34, after a detention officer at the Fulton County Jail found him Thursday. He was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead at about 5:30 a.m. Friday, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. The county’s Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy to determine a cause of death, authorities said.

Smith had been in custody since Oct. 6, 2019. He was being held without bond on several unspecified felony and misdemeanor charges, the sheriff’s office said.

The U.S. Department of Justice opened an investigation of the jail, citing Lashawn Thompson’s September 2022 death as one of dozens in the facility during the past few years. Thompson, 35, died in a bedbug-infested cell in the jail’s psychiatric wing, drawing national public attention.

The county reached a settlement with Thompson’s family earlier this month.

So far this year, five people have died in Fulton County custody. In April, as part of the reaction to Thompson’s death, county commissioners approved $5.3 million in extra jail funding for inmate health tracking, cameras and other upgrades.