Camilia McCullough has spent the last several days waiting outside of a hospital room, praying that her son recovers from a stabbing assault.
Her 20-year-old son was stabbed three times and beaten with sticks. She said the beating was so severe, on top of the stab wounds, that he can still barely walk without her assistance.
Following the assault, she bathed her son, who still had dried blood on his body, days after the attack. The former star athlete held a 3.5 GPA while in school. Now he lies in a hospital bed with a spinal cord contusion and puncture, awaiting surgery.
McCullough is one of many mothers whose children have perhaps fallen between the cracks. She wants to share her son’s story in the hope that she can raise awareness to a problem that is crippling the local community.
Her son was an inmate at the local county jail when the stabbing occurred. She said she hopes that the fact her son was behind bars at the time he was attacked doesn’t overshadow a problem that needs correcting.
“No matter what anyone does to place themselves in jail, it is the duty of the those in authority to provide them with proper attention and medical care,” McCullough said.
McCullough said her story goes beyond the recent stabbing assault. Making no excuses for her son, she said she made several attempts in the past to stop him from traveling down a road of crime. Going through law enforcement, legal routes and even elected officials, she said her son’s actions were ignored by those who could have helped steer his path. She said it is a story that is all too familiar within Yazoo City.
“As I sit here in this trauma unit with my son, I feel obligated to speak up as a mother,” she said.
The recent stabbing at the Yazoo County Regional Correctional Facility made headlines last week. Two inmates were stabbed during a violent altercation. And one inmate, behind bars on a murder charge, remains under investigation.
McCullough said she could find no other words other than “negligence” to describe what she and her son have endured following the assault.
Lack of communication, limited manpower and inadequate security measures are just a few of the problems at the local county jail, McCullough said. But she said her son was not provided the proper medical attention he deserved following the assault. She said she hates to think of what could have happened to him had she not bonded him out, taking him to a hospital for medical care.
McCullough said no human deserves to be treated the way her son had following the stabbing assault. Based on information provided to The Herald, it was reported that the injured inmates “are still receiving medical treatment for serious injuries.” McCullough said that report was wrong.
“He was transported to the hospital to be ‘checked on’ and returned back to the jail that night,” she said. “No one provided me any details of his injuries as I called the jail, the sheriff and the hospital. I was able to briefly see my son the next day. He was not walking on his own, and he was in extreme pain. He felt his life was still in danger, so I tried reaching out to the jail and other authorities. I did not get anywhere with anybody.”
McCullough said she decided to bond her son out of jail on Oct. 4. He was being held on armed robbery charges, but she said her son has not been indicted and has not appeared before a judge yet.
When McCullough arrived to take her son home, she said she was shocked by what she encountered.
“He was carried out by a guard, still not being able to walk on his own,” she said. “After getting him home, I had to bathe my son who still had blood on him from the incident. He had not been helped to bathe or clean himself up. He also had no medications to prevent possible infections and no prescribed pain medications.”
Terry Gann, chief deputy with the Yazoo County Sheriff’s Department, said narcotics are not provided to county jail inmates. He also said that jail employees are supposed to be provided medical treatments, such as antibiotics, diagnosis and other needs, by the responding medical staff to be given to the inmate.
McCullough said after spending the first night at home, her son was in so much pain that she took him to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson the next morning. It was there that he was diagnosed with a spinal cord contusion and puncture and could require surgery. As of press time, he remained in the hospital.
Gann also told The Herald that the recent assault remains under investigation. But he said the investigation does become a lengthy process because he must rely heavy on video surveillance.
“It is very difficult to get the inmates to give statements to us, so we have to rely on reading between the lines and video surveillance,” Gann said. “It is a slow-going process, but there will be charges. Several of the inmates who were in the yard during the time of the attack could be charged with accessory. And Tommy White Jr., an inmate, is also being investigated with his role in the incident so he could also be facing more charges.”
McCullough said she attempted to keep her son on the right track when he was still in high school.
“I have been a mother who has been seeking assistance for him since he started to turn to trouble after a traumatic event occurred while in high school,” she said. “
She said her son, who was a star athlete at the time, was accused of a crime he did not commit.
“During the investigation, he was dismissed from school and football,” McCullough said. “He was ridiculed by both his peers and adults for years, and this eventually led him to seek comfort in marijuana. With much time left from school and his first love, football, he began befriending outsiders in the streets.”
The charges against her son were later dismissed, but McCullough said the damage was already done.
McCullough said she went to law enforcement to discipline him for his behavior.
“I have sought help directly from the county sheriff, mayor, youth court, the district attorney, anybody who I think could help, and no one provided any direction,” McCullough said. “And now we are here.”
But McCullough said she is not the only parent who feels abandoned by the system.
“I think with all the youth crime and killings happening in this town, a parent’s cry for help could be heard,” she said. “Some of the youth are coming from good families and are being sucked up by crime and older street guys. My son is an example. He was a top student athlete who had a 3.5 GPA. I’m a mother with a graduate degree and now own my own business in this city. I know I am not alone as a parent. These school age kids are walking the streets, nightly during school days, and nothing is being done.”
McCullough said other members of her family have also suffered from the local crime that is plaguing the community. Her nephew has had weapons pulled on him, and her seven-year-old niece was struck by gunfire during an altercation beyond her control.
“Someone needs to speak up on how those in authority are not doing everything possible to change this community,” McCullough said. “Why isn’t there a curfew? Why are kids able to walk the streets with guns at night and nothing is being done?”
McCullough said she does not make excuses for her son, but the recent assault at the local county jail has her even more worried about the future of the community and her family. Even though he was an inmate, she said her son still deserved proper medical attention and care. She said he did not deserve to be thrown back into his jail cell with his injuries, uncleaned and uncared for.
“I think the system is failing our youth and something needs to be done,” she said.