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'This Should Have Never Happened': Attorneys Announce Lawsuit In Death Of 18-Year-Old Fulton County Jail Inmate

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- The family of Tyrique Tookes, 18, and their attorneys announced a lawsuit against the people responsible for his care inside the Fulton County Jail. Tookes, who was booked into the jail in March 2019, was found dead in his cell in May 2019, after complaining about chest pains for several days. Authorities launched both criminal and civil investigations.

"I want justice for Tyrique. I need justice for my son," said his mother, Kwitessa Tookes, explaining how she repeatedly begged the staff to get him to the hospital four miles away. "I felt ignored, distraught, powerless." "He would be alive with us today," said Israel Tookes, Tyrique's grandfather. "To lose a son, man, when the simplest things could have been done, he'd still be here," said Tyrant Ealy, said Tyrique's father.

An autopsy revealed Tookes died from an aortic aneurism, a bulge in a large artery connected to the heart. "We found gross negligence on the part of NaphCare and their healthcare providers at Fulton County Jail," said Jane Lamberti, one of the attorneys and a partner with Cochran Firm Atlanta. "He should have been taken to the emergency room immediately. He was examined by a [physician's assistant]. They said, 'It's just indigestion, heartburn.' This should have never happened." "He was not convicted of anything. He was being held there, had a bond," said Mawuli Davis, an attorney and founding partner of Davis Bozeman Law Firm.

The attorneys filed a lawsuit in DeKalb County State Court against NaphCare and several individuals. "Fulton County Jail has had a history of difficulty providing competent and reasonable care to their inmates." Lamberti indicated the Fulton County Jail pays NaphCare $20 million a year to provide care for inmates and that NaphCare has an annual revenue of over $100 million and gross profits of over $90 million. "It's more profitable to keep an inmate who is in pain and agony in jail," Davis said. He continued, "This mother's voice was not heard. This 18-year-old, with a bright future, his voice was not heard." Lamberti added, "This is another example of systemic racism."

NaphCare issued a statement to CW69:

The death of Tyrique Tookes is a tragedy, and we are deeply saddened by this loss of life. NaphCare is unable to provide additional comment in light of pending litigation. We stand behind the quality of care provided to our patients and remain committed to providing the highest quality healthcare to every patient.

Davis said Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to complete an investigation within six to nine months. The Fulton County Sheriff's Office declined to comment on any jail procedures or its role related to the case.

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