2 Muscogee Co. Jail inmates die from suspected medical issues; 1 death to be investigated

Updated: Sep. 23, 2019 at 12:56 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Two Muscogee County Jail inmates recently passed away of suspected medical issues.

36-year-old Shaun Ryan died Saturday, Sept. 21 after being transported from the jail to Piedmont Columbus Regional. According to the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office, Ryan has been in an out of jail since January 2019 and was known to have serious medical issues. Due to his medical issues, Ryan had been released from the jail as part of the Pre-Trial Release Program at least three times since January.

Ryan was placed in Columbus Hospice on August 26 and released to Hospice homecare on Sept. 4.

Shawn Pearson, 46, died Monday, Sept. 23 after being transported to Piedmont Columbus Regional. Deputies were notified at approximately 5:30 a.m. that Pearson was having a seizure in the general population dorm of the stockade. Deputies responded immediately and found Pearson in medical distress. Deputies requested an ambulance to transport him to the hospital.

Pearson was pronounced dead at approximately 6:20 a.m. Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins contacted the GBI and requested an investigation into Pearson’s death.

“We certainly believe it’s related to a medical issue, but just to follow protocol ,we notified the GBI,” she said.

Muscogee County Coroner Bryan believes the deaths of both men are due to prior health issues.

According to Bryan, Ryan had congestive heart failure, AFIB, diabetes, just to name a few, and Pearson had “lengthy" illness as well. He was obese and had a trach.

Bryan said the death of these two inmates did not raise any alarms with him. Both were taken to Piedmont Columbus Regional for treatment prior to their deaths.

“I don’t have any concerns with the cause or manner of death, and I don’t have any concerns about their care in the jail either,” Bryan said.

Tompkins said Ryan had been in Hospice care before.

“Our medical staff was well aware of that,” she said. “I don’t know if there’s anything we could have done, anything any differently in that particular case.”

According to Tompkins, the GBI’s investigation will allow them to be transparent and accountable with the public and see if any changes need to be made in the future.

“We need to let the investigation proceed, and at that point, we will certainly evaluate whether we should’ have done anything differently,” Tompkins said. “We always do anytime there’s a death.”

Bryan said these two inmates make up about eight inmate deaths in the past seven years since he’s been coroner. All but one were from natural causes.

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