The family of a Gordon County man allegedly murdered in a fight in the Floyd County Jail have filed a lawsuit claiming jail personnel were “negligent” and could have prevented the death.

The lawsuit was originally filed in Floyd County Superior Court, but was removed to federal court jurisdiction on Monday.

According to jail officials, on the morning of Feb 26, 2008, Gordon County inmate Larry Stokes was found unresponsive in his cell after reportedly fighting with Floyd County inmate Emanuel Steffon Smith.

Stokes died several days later at Floyd Medical Center.

Stokes and Smith were both state inmates, having already been convicted.

Stokes was convicted on two counts of trafficking methamphetamine and sentenced to a 15-year prison term, while Smith was serving five years for his conviction of burglary and possession of tools for the commission of a felony.

The suit alleges that even after jail personnel were put on notice that Smith was “likely to cause physical harm to other inmates” they did not act “properly” by not segregating Smith.

“Specifically, plaintiffs contend that defendants failed to protect (Stokes) from a risk of harm while he was incarcerated,” the suit stated.

Smith is charged with murder, aggravated assault and aggravated battery in connection with the incident. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and is tentatively scheduled on the trial calendar for April.

Rome News Tribune

Among the defendants named in the suit were Smith, the Floyd County government, the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department and nine deputies.