Fight over jail debt extends inmates’ time behind bars

It was supposed to be just a week left before Newnan resident Laquan Johnson was ending his stay in the Fayette County Jail. But a Feb. 17 fight between Johnson and two other inmates resulted in the three being charged with rioting in a penal institution, a felony which carries a minimum one-year sentence.

Fayette County Sheriff Barry Babb said 23-year-old Johnson owed inmates Rodriguez Baltimore, 31, of Riverdale, and Michael Ferguson, 28, of Union City, compensation for items purchased at the jail store.

Johnson, who was supposed to be released on Feb. 23, began saying he would not pay the two men back what was owed them, said Babb.

An argument ensued and the three were being separated by a jail guard and sent to different locations when Johnson said something to Baltimore. At that point Baltimore hit Johnson and Ferguson jumped in, Babb said.

Babb said guards broke up the fight from which there were no injuries.

The problem for the three men is that they are facing additional jail time, Babb said, explaining that all three were charged with riot in a penal institution and obstruction. Baltimore and Ferguson were also charged with simple assault, Babb added.

Causing a riot in a penal institution is a felony that carries a sentence of from one to 20 years, Babb said.