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Independent investigation of Dawson County Detention Center death announced by local attorney
Dawson County Detention Center

A Forsyth County attorney representing the family members of Jonathan Sanford, the 18-year-old Dawson County man found dead in the Dawson County Detention Center in early June, announced on Thursday that an independent investigation into the teen’s death has been initiated. 

In a press release, Attorney AJ Richman stated that his firm’s investigation will run parallel with the inquiry currently being conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and will attempt to determine whether any negligence by the detention center staff contributed to the teen’s death. 

“My firm has launched our own investigation into what went on at the Sheriff’s Office when Jonathan died,” Richman said in the release. “We are looking at whether an act or failure to act by jail personnel may have contributed to the cause of Jonathan’s death.”


Authorities reported that Sanford had been found lying unresponsive in his cell early on Tuesday, June 2, by an officer conducting a check in the detention center.

Prior to his death, Sanford had been arrested by the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office on a narcotics charge and for DUI Drugs. 

An incident report obtained through open records request by the Dawson County News showed that deputies had been searching for a suspected impaired driver on Monday, June 1, when Sanford was taken into custody. 

In the release, Richman alleges that Sanford, “should have been issued a bond and released from custody within just a few hours.

“Instead, he was found dead inside the jail,” Richman’s release states. “As of today, Jonathan’s parents have not been told the cause of their son’s mysterious death.”

Following Richman's announcement, Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson voiced his confidence in the current GBI investigation, stating that the state agency will undoubtedly return a thorough and unbiased investigation. 

Johnson stated that he could not comment on other statements made in Richman's release. 

This story will be updated.