Ajibade trial to begin next week - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Ajibade trial to begin next week

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

The trial will begin next week for the three people charged with involuntary manslaughter, after a Chatham County inmate died in jail on New Year’s Day.

Two Chatham County Sheriff’s Office deputies and a healthcare worker are being blamed for Mathew Ajibade’s death.

Attorneys from both sides met Wednesday to discuss what will and will not be allowed as evidence in court.

In this case, the state plans to prove negligence. According to the indictment, Ajibade was tased while he was in a restraint chair, where he later died. The state said someone should have been checking on him.

Wednesday, the state called in the former Captain of Security at CCSO, Robert Brooks. He would train deputies on procedures, including how to use the restraint chair.

The state wants to use him as a witness and his teaching methods as evidence, but the defense argues that the procedures he taught were never implemented as a policy at the jail.

Defense: “Did you try and get this procedure adopted by the Chatham County Sheriff's Department?”
Brooks: “Yes.”
Defense: “And it was not adopted by the Chatham County Sheriff's Department was it?”
Brooks: “Not as a policy.”
Defense: “And not as a procedure?”
Brooks: “I continued to use it. No one told me not to use it.”

One of the defense attorneys in the case is raising the question of whether or not restraint chairs should still be used inside today’s jails. He says the three charged with Ajibade’s death are “scapegoats” for a much bigger issue.

The chairs remain controversial because many folks have died in them. Some places no longer use it, including the Florida State Prison. Other places have restrictions on when to use it. The state of Vermont will only use it if a doctor signs off on it.

Attorney Willie Yancy says the state should also be looking to make changes as to what is allowed in the prison.

"Had they gone ahead and treated this as a civil manner, we could look at all those factors so it wouldn't happen again. They decided to pick on three scapegoats to keep from dealing with it,” said Willie Yancey, Defense Attorney.

Each county can decide whether or not to use the restraint chair. Effingham County does not use but Bulloch County does. While it may be a controversial topic, a federal judge ruled on an Atlanta case saying the use of the restraint chair is constitutional.

The trial is expected to begin next week.

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