COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - New details have been revealed on the death of an inmate in the Muscogee County Jail.
On August 25, a stabbing at the AutoZone on Hamilton and 32nd in Columbus sent a 51-year-old clerk to the hospital fighting for his life. The next day, 19-year-old Jayvon Hatchett was arrested, allegedly telling police he stabbed the employee because of his race. From August 28 through the early morning hours of September 5, Hatchett shared a cell with Eddie Nelson Jr. Around 2:30 a.m. this past Saturday, Hatchett was allegedly seen by a deputy strangling Nelson to death.
As of September 8, Hatchett is facing a murder charge and Sheriff Donna Tompkins said her staff had no idea of the racial motivation Hatchett admitted to police at the time of his arrest.
Documents from the original crime sheds a different light on the string of events leading up to Eddie Nelson’s death.
From the beginning, Tompkins has said she and her staff had no idea of the risk Hatchett posed to his cellmate. WTVM obtained the documents to prove what she said has some validity, even though questions remain.
“Go pull the initial incident report from the Columbus Police Department which is three pages long and states he stabbed this person at the AutoZone. It gives no reasoning for that nor would we know what that reasoning was. No we did not know,” Tompkins said.
After charging Hatchett with the murder of his cellmate, Tompkins said no one in her department knew of the alleged reasoning behind Hatchett’s original charges. In a Columbus Police Department offense report, it states “anti-white” under the hate and bias column. This report was not given to the sheriff’s office.
However, as Tompkins said, the initial report given to the jail has no information on this alleged bias. The narrative reads “subject entered the AutoZone and stabbed the victim multiple times with a knife.”
“Somebody made a decision to put these two inmates in a cell together and that never should have happened. Whoever did it had to have known,” Attorney Craig Jones said.
Jones is representing Nelson’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit. He said multiple deputy sheriff’s were in the courtroom during Hatchett’s preliminary hearing where officers testified Hatchett told them he stabbed the AutoZone clerk because he is white.
“You can’t tell me those officers in court didn’t go back to the jail and tell their supervisor, and their supervisor didn’t tell their supervisor," Jones said. "I think it was probably a total breakdown of communications, but this is a big enough deal that if you’re in charge of the jail, if you’re in charge of the sheriff’s department, you have to know about this.”
“Absolutely, there needs to be better communication," Tompkins said. "Better communication from the courts, police department, sheriff’s office. Upon his initial book in, we did not have any information that would have told us the circumstances behind every case. We just know what the charge is. That’s what we know.”
Tompkins is conducting an internal investigation to find out if anyone knew of Hatchett’s history, and if they did, why they didn’t bring it up.
Police told WTVM the original victim from the AutoZone stabbing is now out of the hospital and recovering at home.