Medical examiners take stand, video evidence introduced in Ajibade death case
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The involuntary manslaughter trial against two former Chatham County Jail workers and a healthcare worker stretched into day two on Wednesday.
Former Chatham County Jail workers Jason Kenny and Maxine Evans and contract healthcare worker Gregory Brown face involuntary manslaughter charges after 21-year-old Mathew Ajibade was found dead on Jan. 1.
Medical experts from Chatham County, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the state were back on the stand on Tuesday. They testified that Ajibade did not have alcohol in his system when he died, but he did test positive for marijuana.
The state medical examiner said several things, from the fights with police before he was take to jail, the fight with deputies at the jail, the tasing and the restraint chair, led to his death.
The Chatham County coroner explained his interaction with the states chief medical examiner while deciding how to classify Ajibade's death.
"This is going to be, uh, in the press, and I want to make sure I have everything right. And that's why I called Dr. Sperry, Chief Medical Examiner, and said okay, is what I'm dealing with an accident or a homicide? Those were really the two choices," said Dr. William Wessinger, Chatham County coroner.
The jury got a more complete look at the events that unfolded the night of Jan. 1st, starting with Ajibade's arrest at a convenience store on Abercorn following a fight with his girlfriend.
"He kept struggling, I guess the fight was out of him. We finally got down low enough and we placed the cuffs on him, and that was it. He was calm from there," said Star Cpl. Reggie Owens, SCMPD arresting officer.
Star Corporal Owens said once he and his partner got Ajibade to the jail, that he told his partner to let jail staff know that Ajibade "could be mental." But in the intake form, the corporal admitted he filled out the form incorrectly, circling that Ajibade did not have or present existing mental health issues.
Ajibade was bipolar and police had been given medication belonging to Ajibade to treat bipolar disorder when he was arrested.
Owens testified that he had handed that medication to Jason Kenny when he arrived at the detention center.
Jurors were also shown a big piece of evidence on Wednesday: the video of the moments that led up to and including the struggle between Chatham County Sheriff's deputies, jail staff and Ajibade. The video shows what appears to be an uncooperative Ajibade arguing with a deputy, then two, about not wanting to sit down in the intake area of the jail.
When Ajibade tries to physically resist the deputies, he is taken down, and from there he was eventually restrained. He later died while restrained to the chair.
"They were trying to get him to calm down, and comply. He was not complying. I responded to the area, and I asked for the taser. One of the officers handed me the taser, and I placed the taser to his (Ajibade) thigh, and instructed him further to calm down and allow the officers to secure him in hand restraints," said Debra Johnson, former CCSO lieutenant.
Lt. Johnson was the watch supervisor the night Ajibade died.
The state ended the videos with the angle that shows the time that elapsed between checks on Ajibade by the deputies, which is significant because of discrepancies in the logs that brought about charges relating to falsifying public records.
Thursday morning, jurors will continue watching jail surveillance video as the state focuses on the amount of times Ajibade was checked on in his cell by deputies after the scuffle, until he was found dead.
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