LOCAL GBI investigating death in Centerville police cruiser By Strangling Herself With Seat Belt

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What started as a seemingly routine arrest turned dangerous this past Mother’s Day.

Sharon Stokes’ 31-year-old daughter Ashley Gaultney died Sunday from injuries sustained while in the custody of Centerville police three weeks ago.

After allegedly stealing mail, she was placed in a police cruiser and transported to the Houston County Detention Center.

Along the way, she allegedly strangled herself with her seatbelt.

However, attorney David Dozier, who represents the family, has questions.

“We are just puzzled by, if the story is truly what the officers have alleged it to have been, then how could this have happened?” asked Dozier.

Centerville Police and Houston County Attorney George Hartwig asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate.

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We reached out to Centerville Police Department Chief Charles Hadden for comment but he declined, citing the GBI’s ongoing investigation. He referred us to the agency.

So we spoke to special agent in charge J.T. Ricketson, who says so far, there is no evidence of police misconduct.

He says inward-facing dashcam video shows Gaultney wrapping the seatbelt around her own neck.

According to a supplemental police report, EMS personnel had already determined that Gaultney was “faking” a seizure earlier in the day.

So when the transporting officer “heard noises coming from the back seat that sounded like gasping and kicking,” he “assumed it was her ‘faking’ seizures.”

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When she arrived at the detention center and was found unresponsive, the report says Gaultney received CPR and then was transported to a hospital.

J.T. Ricketson says the GBI is still waiting on autopsy and blood test results.

According to her mother, Gaultney leaves behind 6 kids ranging in age from 4 to 15.

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