ATLANTA — The rapper Yak Gotti got into a fight with another inmate in Fulton County jail on October 8, sheriff’s office officials confirmed Friday afternoon.
Yak Gotti – real name Deamonte Kendrick – emerged from the fray relatively unscathed, his mother Tasha Kendrick said. “He beat that boy’s ass,” she told Rolling Stone.
Kendrick is in jail without bond on murder, gang and racketeering charges in the sprawling indictment against the YSL collective that also has superstar rappers Jeffery “Young Thug” and Sergio “Gunna” Kitchens behind bars. Neither Young Thug nor Kitchens are being held at Fulton County’s jail on Rice Street.
But most of the YSL crew are being held together in the same block of the jail’s north side, the better to keep them from getting into fights tied to a street war with another alleged Atlanta street gang, YFN, that prosecutors say has claimed as many as 50 lives over the last seven years.
Earlier this year, YFN Lucci – also in jail on Rice Street on murder and racketeering charges – was stabbed by another inmate.
At first, a spokeswoman from the sheriff’s office initially told Rolling Stone they didn’t know anything about the alleged attack. “We’re still looking,” said a spokeswoman. “Just from what I’ve been able to find in incident reports from the jail, I don’t see anything that supports that. I see no incident at all of that happening.”
But jail officials sent Tasha to retrieve a report confirming that a fight had taken place between Kendrick and two other inmates Saturday morning, a few hours after the initial attack. Somehow, the jail was able to find a report of the incident, once Rolling Stone informed the jail that Kendrick’s mother was going to have one in hand.
The internal report from the Fulton County sheriff’s office assigns Kendrick the blame for the fight with another prisoner on October 8. Kendrick walked up to another prisoner while breakfast trays were being passed out and punched him in the face, according to the report. Then half of the 100 block jumped on the guy until backup deputies arrived.
That’s not the story Kendrick told his lawyer, or his mother, or the deputies. Kendrick said he punched the other inmate because he had tried to stab him with a homemade knife, according to the report.
Gotti’s mother said she pulled the county sheriff aside, demanding safety for her son. “I just want to make sure my son comes out the way he went in, with ten finger and ten toes” Tasha Kendrick said. “He needs to get some control in that jail.”
“My son doesn’t deserve to be attacked in jail,” she added. “No one’s does.”
But she talked about her child fighting off an attacker in Fulton County Jail like she was reporting the weather. Violence at Rice Street has become that tiresome.
She was still tired Thursday morning when she discussed this assault in the halls outside of a bond hearing courtroom in Atlanta. She works nights. That Saturday morning, she had barely been in bed when Kendrick called her to tell her about the attack. She rushed over, she said. His attorney Jay Abt also went to the jail.
“I don’t know who the individual was,” who fought with Gotti, Abt said. “Someone came at him and tried to stab him with a shank. He defended himself.”
Judge Ural Glanville had denied “Young Thug” Williams and “Gunna” Kitchens bond a few moments earlier, despite some questions about prosecutors’ assertions that they posed a threat to witnesses. Kendrick was summarily denied bond a few moments later.
The trial is likely to be pushed back until March, because many of the defendants have yet to be given a public defender. In the meantime, prosecutors argue that everyone would be safer with the YSL crew in jail. And yet, people are dying at the jail.
Dino Walker, 32, was stabbed to death by another inmate on September 23. His body went undiscovered for hours. A few weeks earlier, an arrestee being processed stabbed a sheriff’s deputy multiple times (the deputy survived). But at least two other deaths – an overdose and one still under investigation – have occurred in the last month.
The Fulton County jail in Atlanta is rife with shanks. Sheriff Patrick Labat carted a literal wheelbarrow of homemade knives into a county commission hearing a few weeks ago to theatrically make the point: jail overcrowding and personnel shortages – 155 vacancies – are making things unsafe.
The jail is averaging more than one stabbing a day, Labat told Atlanta City Council members last week. That’s happening in part because 485 people are sleeping on the floor in open bays. “People can walk around,” he said, pleading to accelerate an agreement to use open space in the city’s largely-empty jail. “It is a space we live in where people are dying.” More people behind doors in the jail means “the only person you can assault is your roommate.”
Inmates themselves — including the rapper and Young Thug collaborator Mikel “Problem Child 5” Gunn — highlighted the situation in a video recorded inside the Fulton County Jail last week on Instagram live.
ACLU Georgia released a report Wednesday describing the situation in the jail as increasingly – and unnecessarily – dire. The report’s authors argue that freeing enough people eligible for bond, in jail for misdemeanors or for petty offenses that could have been managed through diversion would reduce its headcount below its capacity.
“If we don’t want to violate people’s rights, you’ve got to decide what’s more important: the Constitution of the United States or the safety of the community,” Abt, Kendrick’s lawyer said. The sheriff’s department, he added, “needs to come into this courtroom and tell these judges to start giving these people bonds, so they’re not stuck in a more dangerous environment.”