Jail staff takes stand in Ajibade trial, video showing taser use - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Jail staff takes stand in Ajibade trial, video showing taser use shown for first time

Surveillance video shown during the trial. Surveillance video shown during the trial.
CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

Testimony continues for day four of an involuntary manslaughter trial for a nurse and two former Chatham County deputies charged in the death of Mathew Ajibade.

Jurors are hearing from jail staff on duty the night Ajibade was found dead inside a cell following a scuffle with deputies. Day four saw some of the most revealing visual evidence since jail surveillance of a physical struggle between Ajibade and Chatham County Sheriff’s deputies was revealed for the first time to jurors two days ago.

For the first time, video from the tasers used the night Ajibade struggled with deputies, including the one used inside his cell once he was restrained, was shown during day four of the trial. Tasers used by deputies in the Chatham County Detention Center have cameras that are built in that activate when used.

The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Investigator looking into the use of force from that night, took the stand to explain for jurors what was going on in the video.

The first videos shown were from the taser a deputy originally used on Ajibade when he was taken to the floor. But that one was grabbed by Ajibade in the struggle.

The next series of clips revealed what happened inside Ajibade's cell while deputies, specifically Jason Kenny, who was the only one authorized to use the taser in the cell due to rank, as they tried to get Ajibade into the restraint chair.

"That was also inside of the cell,” said Pvt. Nicole Meyers, CCSO Internal Affairs.

"And in that video, did you see Mr. Ajibade fighting,” asked Christy Barker, Assistant District Attorney.

"I did not,” replied Meyers.

"Was the taser deployed,” asked Barker.

"It was,” replied Meyers.

One video showed the taser that would have been held by defendant Jason Kenny. The internal affairs investigator testified that it appears Ajibade wasn't moving or being combative, but the taser was used anyway.

"There was nothing taught regarding tasing or drive stunning a restrained individual, either way. The lesson plan was taught on how to restrain a person, and gain compliance. And that was through the use of a taser. There was nothing on there that said you could not tase somebody that was in restraints,” said Pvt. Meyers.

"Based upon what you saw in the longest video, that's where this still came from. Based upon what you saw, someone cuffed behind the back, and leg shackles on, was the use of the taser appropriate under your use of force continuum,” asked Assistant District Attorney Barker.

"It was not,” replied Meyers.

Meyers testified that she listened closely to every bit of video from outside Ajibade's cell. The last confirmable sound she heard from him was at 12:35 a.m. Jan. 2.

He was found unresponsive a little more than an hour later. A time of death has never been determined.

Taking the stand first for the third time was the former Chatham County Sheriff’s deputy who was watch commander the night Ajibade died. Also sharing testimony were two current deputies involved in restraining Ajibade, as well as Eric Vinson, one of the nine terminated by the sheriff’s office following the incident.

Debra Johnson again testified that she heard Maxine Evans say she got busy and forgot to check on Ajibade once he was in the restraint chair and in a cell in the old booking part of the jail, instead of the detox cell like she had ordered.

Two other current deputies followed, and were asked to describe in detail the physical struggle with Ajibade, including the moments before and after. 

Vinson was one of several deputies who struggled with Ajibade once he grabbed a taser from a deputy, and is seen in jail surveillance kicking Ajibade, Vinson says to get the taser free.

Maxine Evans' attorney, Bobby Phillips questioned him about the spit mask placed over Ajibade's face.

The prosecution has pointed out that deputies should have or would have seen the blood pooling up inside the mask from Ajibade's mouth. But Phillips pointed out the mask was presented to the jury and previous witnesses inside out.

"If you were looking at the decedent in the chair, and you looked at this side from about the same distance as you are now, and you'd be looking through a glass window, you would not necessarily see the blood on the inside of the mask, would you,” asked Phillips.

"Looking from there, correct," replied Vinson.

"You got any idea why they would show the mask to the jury," asked Phillips. 

Phillips and Jason Kenny's lawyer motioned for a mistrial just after lunch, but Judge Bass denied.

The prosecution says they're behind, so to make up ground, jurors will be right back here Saturday morning.

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