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No Charges for Georgia Guards Who Allegedly Abetted Attack That Left Prisoner Dead

by Keith Sanders

On September 30, 2022, nineteen-year-old Quafabian McBride was fatally stabbed in the heart during a fight between rival gangs at Georgia’s Phillips State Prison. McBride and fellow “Rolax Bloods” member Dejuan Cannon, 22, allegedly attempted to attack another prisoner, “Crips” member Antavious Simon, also 19. But Simon got to McBride first.

A third prisoner, Joseph Williams, claimed he watched as guard Jarvis Jones led McBride into the building where Simon’s cell was located and opened another cell nearby, releasing Cannon and another member of Simon’s gang. Williams said the guard “[made] it possible for McBride and two other inmates to attack a rival gang member” by “unbolting the cell door.”

But Simon was on alert because another guard, Sgt. Geramy Brown, had removed Simon’s cellmate just before the attack and left that cell door unlocked, too. Brown was fired three days later “for violating employee standards of conduct, staff misconduct, and failure to comply with an investigation.” Jones was suspended with pay, along with fellow guard Sara Patterson, “pending the outcome of investigations into violations of employee standards of conduct,” according to personnel records. Patterson was reinstated in January 2023, the same month Jones was fired for illegal drug use, the records show.

No charges have been filed against any of the guards, despite claims by the new Commissioner of the state Department of Corrections (DOC), Tyrone Oliver, that he has “zero tolerance for compromised staff or staff cutting corners to allow inmates to attack one another or kill one another.”

Although the prison is a close security facility, its 800 men have violent histories and are deemed escape risks, so it sees more than its share of violence. McBride was one of five prisoners killed at the lockup in 2022, four just since the July 1 arrival of Warden Deshawn Jones. Three of the deaths occurred in a dorm reserved for prisoners tagged “Level IV” – meaning they are “severely mentally impaired.”

One prisoner, Jacob Daniels, 18, was fatally brutalized by fellow prisoners Cody Matthew Brock and James Ellis Collins. The two allegedly broke Danies’ wrists and feet, cutting him with an ink pen and a broken lightbulb before stuffing a shredded mattress down his throat. They face charges of malice murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, only one killing was reported at the prison in 2021 and zero in 2020. The uptick comes amid allegations of widespread corruption in DOC and a federal investigation into lack of mental health care. [See: PLN, Sep. 2022, p.1.]  Over half of Phillips’ population is on the mental health caseload, Oliver said.

Before Sgt. Brown was fired, he was demoted from Lieutenant in 2020 for “failure to follow policy.” His file also contained three written reprimands, including one for leaving a handcuffed prisoner in a cell with another prisoner who was unrestrained. Unsurprisingly, the cuffed prisoner was then beaten. When asked about his firing, Brown said that video showed prisoners in his unit wandering in and out of their cells. He blamed the problem on faulty locks.

Williams, who was also a victim of a prison stabbing, claims he has been retaliated against for filing suit in Gwinnett County Superior Court over the “lazy and callous disregard” guards show for his safety. He also made two whistleblower claims with state Department of Administrative Services.

“The prison staff has retaliated against me since July 12th [2022] by keeping me in administrative segregation for being a stabbing victim who had the audacity to blow the whistle on staff’s involvement and failures to follow established procedures,” Williams said.

Simon is facing felony rioting and contraband charges for the fatal attack on McBride. He claims he acted in self-defense against the attack by McBride and Cannon, who is charged with felony murder because his companion died during the attack that he allegedly precipitated.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution