A grand jury in Georgia on Wednesday indicted three persons -- two former jail employees and a healthcare worker -- over a fatal encounter with a black college student. Mathew Ajibade, a 21-year-old Nigerian, who was arrested in January, was found dead later in the day strapped to a chair in a county jail in Savannah, Georgia.
In May, nine deputies were fired in connection with Ajibade’s death, which was ruled as a homicide by the Chatham County Coroner, CNN reported. Two of nine were former jail workers, Maxine Evans and Jason Kenny. A third person, Gregory Brown, a healthcare worker, was also charged in connection with the case Wednesday. All three were charged with involuntary manslaughter. Kenny was also charged with aggravated assault and cruelty to an inmate, and Brown and Evans were charged with public record fraud. Brown, who is accused of lying to an agent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), also faces an additional charge of making false statements, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Ajibade was reportedly arrested after a fight with his girlfriend, and was found dead on Jan. 1 in an isolation cell in Chatham County Jail. The autopsy report said that Ajibade died due to a "blunt force trauma ... a combination of abrasions, lacerations, skin injuries about the head and some other areas of the body," CNN reported, adding that the jury did not find enough evidence to indict the three on murder charges.
The case comes amid increased tensions between police officials and blacks, following a series of similar incidents reported in different American states.
Ajibade, a student of Savannah College of Art and Design, was suffering from bipolar disorder and his girlfriend had given a bottle of his prescription medication to police officials at the time of his arrest, the AP reported, citing his family. According to the sheriff’s office, a fight began between Ajibade and deputies, in which the three deputies were injured, the AP reported. One of the officers suffered a broken nose and a concussion. Ajibade suffered blows to his head and upper body.
Officials reportedly said that they had conducted the first round of welfare checks on him after he was moved to the isolation cell. However, during the second round of checks, he was found unresponsive. Officials also said that they gave him first aid and CPR, but he could not be revived, CNN reported.
"It would be nice to say every one of them should have been charged with murder, but that might be unrealistic," Florida defense lawyer Mark O'Mara, representing Ajibade’s family, said, according to the AP, adding: "But here's my frustration: We have been kept so in the dark about the facts in the case that we really don't know."
The sheriff’s office has now reportedly asked the GBI to conduct an independent investigation into the case.