Isaac Crawford

Background

On May 21, 1948, Isaac Crawford was severely beaten while laboring in a ditch at the Richmond County Stockade. When Crawford refused to step into the ditch for fear of a rattle snake, the warden, David L. Turner, beat him.  On June 5, 1948, Crawford died from his wounds.

On April 22, 1948, a city court in Savannah had sentenced Crawford to the Richmond County Stockade for public drunkenness. Sometime during his labor on May 21, 1948, Isaac Crawford refused to continue working in the ditch because he saw a rattlesnake. He asked the warden on duty, David L. Turner, to shoot the snake but Turner refused. When Crawford hesitated to climb into the ditch with the rattlesnake, Turner began to beat the prisoner with a stick, and when the stick broke he pulled out a rubber hose. Witness accounts range as to the nature of Crawford’s injuries, but one of Crawford’s fellow patients at the hospital reported that his body was covered with welts on the arms, chest, back, sides, thighs, and hips and that his face was swollen beyond recognition.

Sometime after the beating, Isaac Crawford was admitted to University Hospital on May 21, 1948. Dr. Virgil Williams, who was in charge of eye, ear, nose, and throat treatment at the University Hospital, was called in to check on Crawford.  His notes reflect “[o]n his sixth day in the hospital there was elevation of the patient’s temperature … At the time he was suffering from obvious cardiac failure… It was on or about this date, June 2 that I ordered nasal oxygen to be started. So far as I know this was continued until the time of patient’s death.”

Legal Status

On June 24, 1948, the guard, David Turner was charged with nine counts of assault and battery, including the assault that resulted in the death of Crawford.

On July 12, 1948, the grand jury declined to indict Stockade Warden Dave Turner for homicide in connection with the death of Isaac Crawford.

On December 9, 1948, Turner was found guilty of assault and battery on nine convictions and sentenced by the City Court Judge Gordon W. Chambers to pay a $50 fine for the attack on Isaac Crawford. On the remaining eight assault and battery indictments he was sentenced to six months’ parole.