A suspect who a Clayton County Police officer had transported to the Clayton County Jail fled the sally port entrance, jumped onto vehicles, and scrambled over the razor-wire-topped wall Wednesday night. CCPD found the man in some woods about a mile away, thanks to a K-9 officer. Body camera video of the escape shows the CCPD officer had called ahead and asked for a “ramp call”—backup for detainees who might flee. The video shows one Clayton County Sheriff’s Office employee came out. When the suspect fled, he repeatedly asked the CCPD officer if she had a Taser. She did not because procedure is for officers to secure all weapons as a safety measure when dropping off detainees.

Inside the adjoining Harold R. Banke Justice Center, CCSO deputies carry automatic rifles, often within point-blank range of unarmed citizens entering through the security checkpoint for civil court dates, jury duty, or routine paperwork.

Here is the video released by the police department:

As the suspect flees from the CCSO officer, the CCPD officer yells, “I knew it! I told you!”

Nigiel M. Lee, 22, of Dothan, AL is being held on eleven counts, including charges in Alabama. He is considered innocent of all charges until and unless he is proven guilty in a court of law:

The incident drew criticism from sheriff’s candidate Clarence Cox, who is running against appointed Interim Sheriff Levon Allen.

“I was really surprised to hear that,” Cox told The Clayton Crescent. “There were some failures there, unfortunately….I’m very glad to know the young man is back in custody. I understand he’s a felon and has some outstanding charges from all over the metro Atlanta area. So it’s sad that our citizens have to be alarmed with that this time of year.”

He added, “My opponent keeps talking about he’s tough on crime. Well, he can start right there in the hall from his office, in the jail, and do something about that. And he hasn’t done that yet. I don’t think he has the capacity to do it because, you know, he doesn’t really have a whole lot of experience in solving those types of issues, being that he’s only been in the business for five years.”

Cox said that, with ongoing reports of alleged inmate stabbings, extortions, and sexual encounters between staff and inmates, it might be time for outside intervention to restore order at the jail.

On Thursday, a man who is out on bond told The Clayton Crescent that he was in the jail for about a month and that he had been denied medication, that gangs are running the jail, and that methamphetamine, marijuana, crack cocaine, and cellphones are for sale with correctional officers’ alleged complicity.

Cox told The Clayton Crescent that he had received a message Thursday that “an inmate was stabbed all over his body and he can’t walk. He’s in a wheelchair. This happened last night. So it’s continuing.”

In January, we reported on the problem of gang stabbings and extortions inside the jail. In March, we spoke with detainees who told of violent attacks and weapons caches in the jail.

“It’s almost to the point where we have to let them put a monitor in there from the federal courts if we can’t get something done sooner,” Cox said. “It’s bad that we’ve got to wait till the election’s over to get this thing resolved because obviously we’ve got some plans to put in place and to get rid of all these weapons. It angers me to know that the interim sheriff, he’s saying that he’s cleaned the jail, that he’s done all this stuff, and every day, somebody’s being stabbed. We’re at a point where we’ve got more crime in the jail than we’ve got on the streets.”

CCSO’s Nixle account, which under both Allen and former sheriff-now-convicted-felon Victor Hill has substituted for actual responses to media inquiries, had not mentioned the escape incident as of press time Thursday evening.

On March 24, Allen posted to Nixle a list of repairs that he allegedly had had completed at the jail. He also claimed that no one had been stabbed nor “been able to breach the perimeter security” in the previous 45 days.

We asked Allen directly via his CCSO and campaign e-mail addresses to respond to Cox’s assertion about his relative lack of experience, as well as for clarifications as to which repairs are complete and how much of the repair costs fell under the Building and Maintenance budget as opposed to CCSO’s. We also asked for clarification on ramp call procedures: how many personnel are supposed to respond, whether or not they are armed, and whether deputies, COs, or both respond to ramp calls. We will update with his response.

The news comes on the same day that the mother of a 22-year-old Fulton County man, Tory Brown, who was shot dead by CCSO deputies during a raid at his girlfriend’s apartment on Godby Road in College Park in August 2021, told WSB’s Tom Jones she plans to file a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the deputies involved.

“Chairman Turner was telling me the other day that, every time the county is sued, the county is responsible for $750,000 of that lawsuit,” Cox said. “The first $750,000. As you know, we have a ton of lawsuits, they’re continuing every day, and we’re not doing anything to mitigate these lawsuits.”

A check of the jail exterior Thursday morning showed several temporary portable lighting units near the MARTA stop, as well as an collapsible work platform that a source told The Clayton Crescent crews had been using to replace windows in the jail.

We saw the same equipment last week but the only work we saw being done this morning was by a man in civilian clothes who appeared to be servicing the lower part of the sally port entrance.

In front of the sally port, for the past several weeks, a wrapped patrol car with Allen’s likeness has been parked so that passersby can see the advertisement bearing his name.

Above the car, on the flagpole, is a custom flag like the one Hill used to fly at Exit 235 where I-75, Tara Boulevard, Riverdale Road, and Old Dixie meet. This flag is smaller, though, and bears the words “Sheriff Levon Allen.”

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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