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Family says medical attention wasn’t given to Southeast Georgia man who died while in jail

A disturbing video of his cell shows deputies checking on him hours before he passed away and doing nothing.

The video is disturbing. A man in his jail cell, seemingly in agony. Hours later, he’s dead.

The family of South Georgia man Kelsey Rayner says his medical issues were never addressed by jail staff.

Investigators found no wrongdoing and jail officials defend their actions.

But family says those involved must be held accountable.

Family says Kelsey Rayner asked a judge to release him from jail because he wasn’t feeling well. Two days later, a disturbing video of his cell shows deputies checking on him hours before he passed away and doing nothing.

“To find out my brother died such a horrible death, it opened up so many wounds,” Telly Rayner, Kelsey’s older brother said.

Kelsey Rayner was described as a man who would help others. He was an entrepreneur according to his brother.

He was selling fruit out of the back of his truck.

Records show that Kelsey Rayner was arrested for theft and operating a business without a license.

“He went into jail with a fever, he had pain inside of himself. He went before a judge and told him that he was in so much pain and that he needed to go to the hospital,”  Telly Rayner said.

But he wasn’t released. Two days later, he died.

Kelsey Rayner’s widow filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit in 2019. Both the Appling County Sheriff’s Office and the jail’s medical group deny any allegation of wrongdoing.

“I witnessed him laying on the floor,"  a jail deputy told investigators. "And I went in there to try and get him up but he didn’t want to get up. He just stayed, you know, pretty much acting stubborn, but he was still breathing."

Kelsey Rayner’s death was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

An autopsy said Rayner’s cause of death was sepsis, a deadly infection created when his colon ruptured.

The GBI interviewed witnesses including jail deputy staff and his family.

Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson, who reviewed the case, told the GBI there was no evidence to file charges.

Telly Rayner claims the district attorney is trying to cover up his brother’s death. Appling County Sheriff Mark Melton worked in Johnson’s office.

He says he also worked alongside Greg McMichael, one of the three men charged in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Telly Rayner thinks his brother wasn’t given proper medical treatment when he needed it most.

“You are not serving and protecting us when you let a man die on your floor,” he said.

Telly Rayner says he is reaching out to the FBI to investigate this case. Rayner’s wife is filing a civil suit against the Appling County Sheriff’s Office.

First Coast News reached out to Sheriff Mark Melton for comment and we are waiting for a response.

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