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Cause of Prisoner’s Death in Tennessee CoreCivic Jail Finally Revealed as Homicide

by Jo Ellen Nott

Laeddie Coleman was the second prisoner brutally stabbed at Tennessee’s Hardeman County Correctional Facility (HCCF) on September 7, 2021. The first, Devin Jamison, was allegedly stabbed 15 times with a homemade knife in the jail day room by fellow detainee Nicholas Tipton, who ran and hid in his cell, while three other prisoners carried Jamison to get treatment for his wounds.

When they returned, the three erstwhile Good Samaritans— Brian Gallegly, Kellum Williams and David Tackett—allegedly launched the fatal attack on Coleman, taking turns stabbing him multiple times. With his blood squirting in all directions, Coleman tried to escape and ran for the door, where surveillance video showed he fell to the floor and died before guards arrived. Meanwhile Jamison was taken to a local hospital and survived. 

​Coleman’s family learned of his death thanks to another prisoner with a cellphone inside HCCF who called a relative. Coleman’s father and sister then called the prison warden, who transferred the call to a chaplain, who then hesitated to confirm Coleman’s death but agreed to check his computer. He finally confirmed the family’s fears, offering his condolences for their loss but refusing to give any details.

​Eight months after his son left the CoreCivic-operated lockup in a body bag, Eddie Tardy still did not know the particulars surrounding Coleman’s brutal death, though not from lack of trying. Tardy begged HCCF, CoreCivic, the Tennessee Department of Correction (DOC) and dozens of attorneys for information about how his son died.

The only communication from CoreCivic regarding the death was a call asking for an address to send Coleman’s belongings. In May 2022, thanks to the pro-bono efforts of attorney Daniel Horowitz and questions from the non-profit news watchdog Tennessee Lookout, Tardy finally learned what happened to his son.

​In a 2020 audit by the state Comptroller’s Office, CoreCivic and DOC reporting was found problematic, and both were faulted for failing to properly document eight prison deaths and identify their causes between 2017 and 2019. [See: PLN, May 2022, p.32.]

​Records show that Coleman is at least the fifth prisoner murdered at HCCF since 2014. Despite the video evidence of Coleman’s death, his alleged killers have not yet been charged, though District Attorney General Mark Davidson said his office had received the case file and would take it to a grand jury in September 2022.

Source:  Tennessee Lookout

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