Family of inmate found dead in Chatham Co. jail file civil rights lawsuit

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – More than a year after his death, the family of a Chatham County inmate found unresponsive in his cell is filing a multimillion-dollar civil rights lawsuit for his death.

Lee Michael Creely, 34, was arrested days before his death for failing to change addresses with his probation officer. Authorities say Creely was found dead on September 6, 2020, during a street check. After an internal investigation, one MP was arrested and four others were fired for negligence surrounding Creely’s death.

“We wake up every day with this nightmare and we want someone to be held accountable for its absence,” said his partner Jessica Hodges.

Creely’s family held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to announce the trial and discuss the results of their investigation into his death.

The lawsuit is against Chatham County and Correct Health LLC, the prison’s healthcare provider. In addition, 14 Collect Health and prison employees are listed as defendants.

“When you deny inmates medical care year after year, people are going to die – and people are dying here in Chatham County Jail,” attorney Will Claiborne said.

There are four counts in the 30-page lawsuit, including wrongful death. The lawsuit alleges that Creely was denied access to proper medical care. Lawyers for the family say Creely was supposed to be given twice-daily withdrawal medication, saying their year-long investigation found he was only given once during of the four days he was in prison before his death.

He further alleges that surveillance videos and prison tapes show that staff delivered meals to Creely’s cell after his death.

“Bringing profits into the system is the problem”, Claiborne. “The Chatham County Commission should immediately fire Correct Health and return to a system where health care is provided directly by the county and the profit motive is removed.”

The family and the lawyers believe that the trial is the only way to obtain accounts.

“I’m not the man I used to be anymore,” Lee’s father, Michael, said. “I would never have thought of burying my son. I never want to see a mother, father, brother, sister or son go through this again.

In January 2021, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Creely died of a fentanyl overdose.

WSAV News 3 contacted the county and sheriff’s department for a response; they both said they had no comment. We are awaiting a response from Correct Health.

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