‘I hate it had to be this way’: Questions remain in death of Rankin County inmate hours after arrest

Family of injured man called law enforcement for help, medical attention
Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 9:09 PM CDT
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RANKIN COUNTY, Miss. (WLBT) - A Rankin County family wants answers after a loved one died behind bars hours after being arrested.

Cory Jackson, 42, died early Saturday morning after being taken into custody by deputies.

“Nobody deserves to die scared and alone in a cell when someone is supposed to protect you,” said Megan Jackson, Cory’s younger sister.

Megan told 3 On Your Side that they called the sheriff’s department for help earlier that morning because they were trying to take Jackson to a hospital for some injuries he sustained earlier, but his hallucinations made that impossible.

“He has a mental illness. He’s schizophrenic, you know, he has drug-induced psychosis. He is bipolar. He has multiple personalities, he is delusional. And he is injured also,” Megan said, not knowing the extent of the injuries at that point.

When a deputy arrived, Megan said he assumed her brother was on drugs because of the way he was acting.

“My mom said he hasn’t been able to get any drugs because he’s been with me the entire day, and I have all of his money,” Megan said. “And the cop was like, ‘well, this is obviously drugs.’ And we were like, ‘no, it’s not.’”

Megan said the deputy called for an ambulance, but claimed paramedics refused to treat him because of his mental state.

The deputy charged him with disorderly conduct so they could bring him in and assured her that he would get medical treatment while behind bars.

Now, the family wants to know what happened after he was taken into custody.

3 On Your Side asked the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department about the case and got a short statement in response.

Spokesperson Paul Holley said Jackson didn’t die at their facility, but was pronounced dead at a hospital afterward.

Megan said Rankin County’s deputy coroner told them something different.

“When they went in to check, he was gone. They said he passed at the jail,” Megan said. “The [deputy] coroner said that he was still in handcuffs when he was found dead.”

Rankin County Coroner David Ruth could not confirm what the family members said, but told 3 On Your Side that Jackson’s body has been sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy.

His family said while Jackson had done drugs many times before, he wasn’t on anything that night.

His mother, Joyce Reddell, said he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and wonders if deputies took that into account when he was arrested.

Neither Redell nor Megan believe that he was given any medical treatment once incarcerated.

“I need answers. Because that day, he was with me all day. We had a good day together,” said Joyce Reddell. “He doesn’t have to run anymore from his demons, but I hate it had to be this way.”

Holley said the case has been turned over to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

Agency spokesperson John Poulos told 3 On Your Side to check with the DA’s office for more information.

Rankin County District Attorney Bubba Bramlett did not return a request for comment, but told WLBT months ago that as a general rule, his office doesn’t pursue inmate deaths.

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