Antonio May (32) died on September 11, 2018, the same day he entered Atlanta's Fulton County Jail. More than three years later, on November 16, 2021, a grand jury has indicted six deputies on charges of felony murder, battery, aggravated assault, and violation of oath of office.
According to his lawyer, May, a Macon resident and father of three boys, technically died from cardiovascular collapse due to physical restraints.
In May 2019, May's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the jail and its healthcare provider, NaphCare Inc. The lawsuit alleges May suffered excruciating pain and suffering before succumbing.
Death for Throwing Rocks
May was throwing rocks at the downtown American Cancer Society's offices in the early morning hours. His mother passed away from cancer just months earlier, so his choice of a target may have had meaning for him.
He shattered a window but made no attempt to leave, instead taking his shirt off and lying down on the pavement.
May admitted to a police officer that he was throwing rocks and said he wanted to go to jail. He was detained on a misdemeanor offense of criminal trespass.
Once at the police station, he complained of not feeling well and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. While at the hospital, he was diagnosed with Substance Abuse Psychotic Disorder, turned over to sheriff's deputies, and transported to the Fulton County Jail.
Mental Health Issues
May tested positive for methamphetamine at the time of his arrest. According to the lawsuit, he suffered from mental health issues. He told a NaphCare medical technician at the jail that he was suicidal. However, he was not placed in the jail's Special Medical Observation Unit. Instead, jail deputies put May in a general holding cell.
Fulton County Jail was under federal oversight after the Southern Center for Human Rights sued the facility for dangerous, filthy, and crowded conditions. The federal oversight was lifted in 2015.
Once in the holding cell, May removed his clothes and started masturbating. Six deputies quickly appeared. One tasered May in the chest with no warning. A confrontation ensued, resulting in the deputies' repeatedly tasering, pepper spraying, and beating May.
To rinse the pepper spray off of May, the deputies placed him in a restraint chair and put a spit mask on him - a device designed to protect police from inmates' body fluids. Deputies then put May in a shower, where they used a water hose on his face.
May died shortly thereafter.
The indicted deputies are Arron Cook, Guito DeLa Cruz, Omar Jackson, Jason Roache, Kenesia Strowder, and William Whitaker.
Deputies at the 2,600 inmate facility allegedly practiced "Taser Tuesdays," indicative of serious issues at the Fulton County Jail.
Over the past decade, more than 50 people died while in custody, making it the deadliest jail in Georgia. Many of the dead struggled with mental illness or substance abuse.