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Clayton County Jail inmate allegedly beats cellmate to death in 'racially motivated' murder: Sheriff

JONESBORO, Ga. — The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that it is investigating a “racially motivated” murder that occurred on Sunday at the Clayton County Jail in Jonesboro, Georgia, where an inmate allegedly beat his cellmate to death “because of the color of his skin.”

Clayton County Sheriff Levon Allen said in a press release Monday that inmate Jaquez Jackson “brutally beat his cell mate with his bare hands, viciously punching, kicking and slamming his head on the toilet, murdering him simply because of the color of his skin.”

The name of the cellmate has not been released.

“During the investigation, Inmate Jaquez Jackson stated several times to investigators that he does not like Mexican/Hispanics and wanted to kill them,” Allen said.

ABC News has reached out to the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office and the Clayton County Jail, but requests for comment were not immediately returned.

Jackson was charged with murder, malice murder, aggravated assault and starting a penal riot, according to the sheriff's office. He had been in the Clayton County Jail on a probation violation related to misdemeanor charges, including simple battery, simple assault, criminal trespass, making terroristic threats and obstruction of an officer.

It is unclear if Jackson has retained an attorney in connection to the murder charges.

Jackson was sentenced to five years on April 20, 2022, with 12 months in jail and four on probation, but his probation was revoked on Aug. 11, according to the sheriff's press release.

The sheriff’s office contacted the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to assist in the investigation.

The murder comes after U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, D-Georgia, called for a federal civil rights investigation into “alleged mistreatment and abuse of inmates” in the Clayton County Jail, where he pointed to reports of “troubling conditions” following the deaths of several inmates.

“There appears to be a pattern and practice of civil rights violations in this jail that result in preventable deaths and jeopardize public trust,” Sen. Ossoff wrote in a Sept. 13 statement, calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an investigation.

In a Sept. 7 letter to Department of Justice Attorney General Merrick Garland, Ossoff wrote, “There appears to be a pattern and practice of civil rights violations in this jail that result in preventable deaths and jeopardize public trust.”

Asked about the call for a federal probe by ABC News, a spokesperson for the DOJ declined to comment.

Ossoff’s call for a federal probe came after the DOJ prosecuted then-Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, who was found guilty in Oct. 2022 of violating the civil rights of jail detainees, according to ABC affiliate in Atlanta, WSB-TV. Hill pleaded not guilty and took the stand in his own defense.

Per WSB-TV, Allen won his first official term as sheriff in April after serving as interim sheriff beginning in Dec. 2022.

Allen said in the press release Monday that for the past 11 months, the sheriff’s office and the Board of Commissions “have been working together diligently to make improvements to the Jail and its current conditions,” including more than $5 million for upgrades to facilities, including security.

Per Allen, the Clayton County Jail currently houses approximately 1900 inmates, which is nearly 400 over capacity, placing inmates on the floor and three in each cell.

The sheriff said that he asked for an additional $6.5 million from the board of commissioners to expand the jail’s capacity.

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