SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Mathew Ajibade was arrested on a domestic violence charge in January and was later found dead, strapped to a chair in a Georgia jail. A grand jury indicted two former jail employees and a health care worker in the college student’s death Wednesday.
Former jail workers Maxine Evans and Jason Kenny, and contract health care worker Gregory Brown are charged with involuntary manslaughter. Kenny is also charged with aggravated assault and cruelty to an inmate. Evans and Brown are also charged with public record fraud, and Brown faces an additional charge of making a false statement. It’s unclear if they have attorneys.
Ajibade, 21, was found dead Jan. 1 strapped to a chair inside an isolation cell at the Chatham County Jail. The man had been stunned with a Taser while he was restrained, was left unmonitored and a log book had been falsified to say that checks were conducted on him that hadn’t been, according to the grand jury bill.
The Savannah College of Art and Design student had been arrested after a fight with his girlfriend. The sheriff’s office has said Ajibade injured three deputies during a fight and one deputy suffered a concussion and a broken nose.
Attorneys for Ajibade’s family say he suffered from bipolar disorder and his girlfriend gave police a bottle of his prescription medication when they arrested him. Officials say Ajibade was stunned with a Taser while he was restrained.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in to handle the case, and few details were released about what happened to Ajibade in the jail. Brown is accused of lying to a GBI agent about checking on Ajibade while he was in restraints.
On May 8, Sheriff Al St. Lawrence announced that nine deputies had been fired in connection with Ajibade’s death. On June 4, attorneys for Ajibade’s family released a copy of his death certificate, which showed the coroner had ruled his death a homicide caused by blunt-force trauma.
Dr. Bill Wessinger, the Chatham County coroner, said Ajibade suffered several blows to his head and upper body and some blood was found in his skull case.
“My recollection is none of them by themselves would have necessarily been fatal,” Wessinger recently said of the injuries.
Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap announced weeks ago that she planned to ask a grand jury for indictments in Ajibade’s death.
Ajibade’s family in Hyattsville, Maryland, has hired attorneys including Florida defense lawyer Mark O’Mara, who defended former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Those lawyers have asked a Savannah judge to disqualify Heap as top prosecutor on the case, arguing she has political reasons to ignore possible criminal charges against the sheriff. Heap dismissed the claims as baseless.
O’Mara has said he suspects Ajibade was having a manic episode at the jail when deputies “beat the (expletive) out of him to get control of him.”
O’Mara said Wednesday that the indictment is “too little too late.” The fact that the grand jury found that there was aggravated assault coupled with the fact that there was a death should have led to a felony murder charge unless Heap wasn’t really trying to secure that charge, O’Mara said.