Arrest made in Gregg County inmate death
POSTED: Monday, January 3, 2011 - 8:12pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 - 11:50am
On Monday, January 3, 2011 Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano announced an update regarding the investigation into the death of jail inmate, Amy Lynn Cowling.
Sheriff Cerliano advised that during the death investigation all documents, reports, logs, and electronic recordings were secured and reviewed by Investigators related to the incarceration of Cowling.
It was determined through investigation that a jail observation log had been falsified by a Gregg County Jail staff member.
This information was forwarded to Texas Ranger Brent Davis and presented to the Gregg County District Attorney's Office. An arrest warrant was issued by District Judge David Brabham charging the defendant, Tomeka Cross, B/F, age 34 with Tampering with a Government Document.
On Friday December 31, 2010 Cross was separated from employment at 11:00 am and booked into the Gregg County Jail at 11:05am. The defendant appeared before Justice of the Peace #1 B.H. Jameson and bond was set at $2,500.00. Cross had been employed at the jail since August 2010.
The investigation further determined that additional employees were involved in conduct that was in direct violation of the Gregg County Sheriff's Office General Orders, Code of Conduct, and Jail Operational Guidelines.
Terminated as a result of these violations were Corporal Kashena Davis, jailer Jacqueline Smiddy, jailer Gary Lewis, and jailer Brian West. During the investigation jailer Darrell McClenton resigned.
Sheriff Cerliano further advised that information regarding the jail observation log as well as additional information was forwarded to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards determined that the jail was in Non-Compliance effective December 30, 2010. This finding resulted in the transfer of all Smith County contract inmates at the Gregg County Jail to the Upshur County Jail. As Smith County is under a Remedial Order, those inmates can only be housed in a county jail in Compliance.
The previous inspection of the Gregg County Jail was conducted December 8-10, 2010 and was determined to be in Compliance.
Sheriff Cerliano stipulated that the investigation is ongoing and the autopsy report is pending.
The Gregg County Sheriff's Office, Texas Rangers, and Gregg County District Attorney's Office are conducting a thorough investigation. Sheriff Cerliano stated that if anyone has done anything improper regarding the incarceration of Cowling or has failed to follow medical standards established to safeguard the health of all inmates, that employee will be dealt with quickly and severely.