Wade Harry, an inmate beaten while in custody at the Grady County Detention Center died Tuesday, after he was removed from life support systems in a Thomasville hospital.
The 48-year-old Cairo man sustained massive head injuries in the brutal beating, which happened Friday, August 21, at 7:38 p.m., according to Grady County Sheriff Harry Young.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) conducted an investigation into the tragic incident, and Tuesday interviewed the 22 other inmates housed in the jail pod the night of the fight. On Wednesday Ricky Reynolds, a 42-year-old from Quitman, who allegedly knocked Wade Harry to the concrete floor, then repeatedly kicked him in the head, was charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.
According to officers moments before the fight, another inmate in the open jail pod where both Reynolds and Harry were housed, pressed a buzzer to alert detention officers of a brewing problem. Sheriff Young says a detention officer arrived at the pod, and saw the fight unfold, called for backup, and Reynolds was subdued.
Sheriff Young said the jail was adequately staffed that night with the required five detention officers on duty. “It was a very unfortunate thing that happened, but there was nothing anyone could do about it. You’d have to be standing right next to them, and even then I don’t know if you could do anything about it,” the sheriff said.
He does place much of the blame for the fight on overcrowded and hot conditions in the jail. “Anytime you’ve got a crowded jail, you’re going to have trouble, and we don’t have enough room to segregate for different crimes.” The jail is not air conditioned, and Sheriff Young said heat also contributes to rising tempers. In fact, since the Friday fight, there have been two other fights amongst inmates, but none resulting in injuries greater than bruises, the sheriff reported.
After Friday’s fight, Wade Harry was transported to Archbold Memorial Hospital and Reynolds was placed in a solitary cell, where he remains.
Reynolds had been held in the detention center on felony burglary and criminal damage to property charges along with parole violation since March 23.
Wade Harry had been in the jail for a misdemeanor probation violation three days when he was beaten.
The Grady Detention Center was built to hold 124 inmates, but has been averaging 125 to 150 in recent months, according to Sheriff Young who said this week’s population is 142, with extra beds brought in for sleeping purposes.