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Teens death in Dawson County jail ruled accidental by GBI
Dawson County Detention Center

An 18-year-old Dawson County man, who was found in the Dawson County Detention Center earlier this year, died from accidental causes, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced on Friday. 

In a statement to the Dawson County News, GBI Public Affairs Director Nelly Miles said that the Medical Examiner has ruled that Jonathan Sanford's death was due to "combined drug intoxication."

Beyond that announcement, Miles said that the GBI's investigation into the incident is still open, so no documents, including the Medical Examiners Report, can be released to the public and no further comments can be made on the case.


An incident report obtained through open records request by the DCN shows that Sanford was arrested Tuesday, June 1, on a narcotics charge and for DUI Drugs. 

Prior to Sanford’s arrest, the report states that Dawson County deputies were searching for a possible impaired driver identified by a witness several hours earlier and after a traffic stop at 378 Marketplace Parkway in south Dawson County, the teen was taken into custody. 

According to Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson, Sanford was later found lying unresponsive in his cell by an officer who was conducting a check in the detention center.

Following Sanford’s death, the GBI was called in to investigate the death.

Due to the GBI investigation, a sheriff’s office records manager has also denied the DCN’s request for an officer’s investigative summary of the teen's arrest, which usually accompanies incident reports. 

Shortly after the GBI investigation was announced, Forsyth County attorney AJ Richman announced that the Sanford family had launched an independent investigation into the teen's death.

In individual statements on Friday afternoon, Richman and Johnson each said that they would not comment on the findings until the GBI's investigation has been completed. 

Sanford's father, Jerry Sanford said that this announcement by the GBI has left their family with even more questions about how the teen could have died.  

"I'm not about retribution, I just want answers and this doesn't add up," Sanford said. 

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