A coroner in Chatham County, Georgia has ruled the death of a 22-year-old Nigerian college student who died while being held at a county jail, a homicide.
Matthew Ajibade died from several blunt-force injuries to the head and upper body, Bill Wessinger, the coroner ruled.
Ajibade was found dead on January 1 in a restraining chair at the Chatham County jail after he struggled with deputies booking him on a domestic violence charge, the Daily Mail is reporting.
Police arrested Ajibade after a fight with his girlfriend. Officers who responded to the call said they found his girlfriend with a bruised face and a bloody nose. Savannah-Chatham County police said Ajibade was holding the woman and refused to release her when officers tried to separate the couple.
The woman gave police a bottle of pills prescribed to Ajibade before they took him away. Attorneys for Ajibade’s family say he suffers from bipolar disorder.
Video taken from inside the jail shows officers wheeling Ajibade to an isolation cell in the chair.
A short time later one of the officers opens the cell door, without permission from a supervisor, and the student lunges forward.
Two deputies then throw him to the ground.
Another then joins and appears to knee the suspect in the head.
A female officer then pulls out her Taser and holds it close to Ajibade seconds before his motionless body is carried away by the officers.
Will Claiborne,lawyer for Ajibade’s family, said his parents were ‘very distressed’ to learn the cause and manner of death from their son’s death certificate.
Sheriff Al St. Lawrence last month fired nine police officers in connection with Ajibade’s death.
The sheriff released no findings from the investigations into Ajibade’s death, which is still considered an open case as prosecutors weigh possible criminal charges.
One deputy suffered a concussion and a broken nose, according to the sheriff’s office.
The fired deputies include two supervisors — Cpl. Maxine Evans and Cpl. Jason Kenny — who were suspended after Ajibade died.
At the time the sheriff’s office said new policies implemented since Ajibade’s death include security measures to audit the use of stun guns at the jail as well as booking procedures to ensure jail medical staff are notified immediately when a detainee requiring medication arrives.
‘The fact that nine people were fired tells us how terrible this incident was,’ said in a written statement at the time.
‘But the family still has no answers about what happened to Matthew.’