ACSO’s Mother’s Day Message Contrasts Previous Administrative Investigation into Baby’s Death

ACSO’s Mother’s Day Message Contrasts Previous Administrative Investigation into Baby’s Death
(Pictured on left) Clovis Waston who was ACSO Sheriff when this incident occurred in 2021. (Pictured on right) Emery Gainey who is the current ACSO sheriff

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) Sheriff Emery Gainey said happy Mother’s Day today. 

Gainey said, “Your strength and support should be acknowledged every day. Let's make sure our mothers feel special today and shower them with extra kindness and love.”


Gainey regarded mothers with a high level of respect; however, ACSO has not consistently shown the same level of consideration.

On August 9, 2021, Heaven Thompson was arrested on two warrants for felony probation violation and failing to appear in traffic court. Thompson informed ACSO officers she was pregnant and having contractions.

Despite being in the hospital with contractions a day prior, Thompson was taken to the Alachua County Jail instead of the hospital. Thompson was initially taken to the jail’s infirmary before being placed in a jail cell.

Thompson gave birth to her daughter, Ava, three months prematurely in the cell. She was then transported to the hospital with Ava, where the newborn passed away a few hours later.

Gainey was not the sheriff when this incident occurred; however, no reports indicate ACSO making efforts to offer reparations or demonstrate accountability since Ava's death.

Clovis Watson was the sheriff when this incident occurred. Watson resigned last year amidst employee lawsuits, and he has been shown to have a long history of abusing his authority, thus decreasing the credibility of his finalized review of ACSO’s administrative investigation into Ava’s death. 

Lead Inspector Brett Rhodenizer conducted the investigation.

The administrative investigation indicates officers heard Thompson clearly state she had contractions on numerous occasions, but that the officers took Thompson less seriously due to her not appearing overtly distressed for a significant amount of time throughout her incarceration. 

The administrative investigation says Thompson received a call while inside the jail from a man she knew. The man told Thompson, “You need to let them know,” and “Let momma call up there and tell them they need to take you to North Florida [Hospital].” 

Thompson replied, “You know they ain't gonna do nothing, they just, they don’t like when people tell them what to do, they gonna do what they want to do. They don’t give a damn about us.”

The administrative investigation shows that different officers and jail staff came to various conclusions about Thompson’s medical condition. A nurse from ACSO‘s contracted private prison healthcare company, Corizon, determined Thompson was not in medical distress.

Ten minutes before Ava’s deliverance, Thompson said, “I feel like I’m gonna have this baby.” She was not authorized to return to the jail's infirmary, and Ava was delivered in the cell. 

The internal review found ACSO had not done anything illegal and no involved officers were found in violation of any laws or ACSO general orders.

ACSO replaced Corizon with a different prison healthcare company a year after Ava's death.

It was reported by WGFL that Thompson was planning to sue ACSO for the law enforcement agency's part in Ava’s death. As of this writing, no reports indicating the resolution to the lawsuit have been found. 

Last year the Florida House of Representatives was seeing Senate Bill 730, also known as "Ava's law." The bill read:

"Every female who is arrested and not released on bond within 72 hours after arrest be administered a pregnancy test within a specified timeframe, upon her request; defining the term “pregnant woman”; authorizing a sentencing court to stay the beginning of the period of incarceration for up to a certain amount of time for a pregnant woman convicted of any offense; requiring that, within 10 days after the end of the stay and the commencement of the woman’s incarceration, she be offered and receive, upon her request, a specified assessment and services, etc."

Ava's law did not pass through the Florida House. The bill died in the criminal justice committee.

Originally posted to ACSO's Facebook

Jack Walden

Jack Walden

Jack Walden is the creator of Gnvinfo and a 2nd year journalism major at Santa Fe College. From general information, to exposing falsehoods and corruption, Jack seeks to deliver the truth.
Gainesville, FL