Originally published on June 27, 2015, at NationofChange.org
A grand jury indicted two former deputies and a contract healthcare worker on felony involuntary manslaughter and related charges on Wednesday for beating and tasing a 21-year-old computer science student to death. Although the student was strapped to a restraining chair and left to die in an isolation cell, the grand jury dropped the murder charge against the deputy directly responsible for killing him. After the coroner ruled his death a homicide, nine deputies were fired last month for their participation in taking the student’s life.
Responding to a domestic disturbance at 6:15 p.m. on January 1, Savannah-Chatham police confronted a Savannah Technical College student named Matthew Ajibade and his girlfriend. According to the police report, Ajibade refused several commands to release his girlfriend and began resisting arrest. Officers slammed Ajibade to the ground before handcuffing him.
Ajibade was charged with battery against his girlfriend and resisting arrest. As officers subdued Ajibade, his girlfriend asked them to take Ajibade to the hospital and gave them his Divalproex medication, which treats the manic phase of bipolar disorder and seizures. Ajibade had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder three years earlier.
Instead of taking Ajibade to the hospital, officers transported him to the Chatham County jail at 6:40 p.m. While being booked, Ajibade allegedly became combative with deputies and attacked them. According to the sheriff’s office, a female sergeant suffered a broken nose and a concussion while two male deputies suffered injuries consistent with a fight.
Deputies placed Ajibade in an isolation cell and strapped him to a restraining chair. According to the indictment, Cpl. Jason Kenny repeatedly shot Ajibade with a Taser and struck him in the head and upper body as he remained strapped to the chair. While performing a welfare check on him the next morning, deputies found Ajibade unresponsive. Medical staff administered CPR and attempted to restart his heart with a defibrillator. A coroner pronounced him dead at 8:45 a.m.