Malaya Tucker is anxiously awaiting news of her son Darnell. She is told he is in solitary confinement after having been beaten by jail guards. She has not been able to contact him since their video visit on Sunday, in which he showed her moldy food trays with insufficient food. Screenshots taken from another video visit went viral on social media on Wednesday. On Thursday, guards reportedly entered Darnell’s cell and beat him up. They put him in solitary confinement, claiming they found a contraband cell phone. This cut him off from communication with the outside.
Mrs. Tucker received news of her son from her other son, Larnell. He is also in DeKalb County Jail due to an administrative error that left an arrest warrant in effect after it had been lifted.
Larnell called his mother from the 6th floor of the jail on Saturday, and she connected him with Atlanta ABC. Larnell was willing to risk being abused himself in order to go public about the inhumane conditions. He said that another inmate who had been transferred from his brother’s floor told him today that his brother had been “jumped” by guards again. He does not know how badly hurt Darnell is.
He also described a case of medical neglect of a diabetic person. Diabetics are not given access to their insulin upon being jailed. Each person has to request it via “health request” on the jail kiosk. A notice says “it can take up to 7 days for your request to be seen”. Larnell witnessed an inmate fall ill from going too long without insulin. It was only when other inmates gathered and began yelling at the guards to give the man his medicine that he was brought downstairs to a medical facility.
Larnell also said there was mold in the food today. He was given food with black and white mold in the noodles and meat. There was so much mold that all of the food was inedible, he reported. “I threw my whole tray away… everybody threw their tray away.” Larnell says another inmate filed a report about the moldy food and held onto his tray so he could show it to someone on the outside next time he had a video visit. While we were talking on the phone, officers came up to the floor to look at the moldy food. Then 11 officers took out tazers and told everyone to get in their cells (Larnell was allowed to stay talking on the phone). The man who reported the food was surrounded by guards outside his cell as they aimed tazers at him, ordering him to get inside his cell. They took the food tray away, but refused to give him a new tray as he requested.
Larnell also reported an infestation of black mold and flies in the showers. “I have to keep a sheet under my door to keep flies out”. He sleeps with just a wool blanket.
Why is Larnell in jail? He says he has a “failure to appear” but he went to court for it in January, and the judge ruled that the warrant would be lifted if Larnell went to pretrial services once a month. But before he could report to pretrial, he was arrested for the same warrant. Now he has been waiting in jail for a month for the courts to fix their administrative error. He says he has called the office of the Public Defender every day and has never talked to the lawyer.
I asked, “are you willing to go public, knowing what your brother has gone through and the risk you’re taking?” Larnell said, “I am because this is ridiculous”.