SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Surveillance video from a Georgia jail shows an inmate being punched and kicked in a fight with deputies, then being left alone in restraints for an hour and a half before jailers found him dead.
Jurors watched the video Wednesday and Thursday during the trial of three former jail employees charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 21-year-old Mathew Ajibade, according to multiple news outlets, some of which also posted portions of the video online.
Authorities have said Ajibade was found dead strapped to a restraint chair at the Savannah jail hours after his arrest on a domestic violence charge Jan. 1.
Prosecutors say Cpl. Jason Kenny shocked the restrained Ajibade four times with a Taser. Cpl. Maxine Evans and nurse Gregory Brown are accused of failing to check Ajibade's condition and faking jail records to make it appear checks had been made.
The jail video shows a fight breaking out as deputies tried to book Ajibade. Two deputies were injured and Ajibade snatched a Taser before he was punched in the face twice and kicked by jailers trying to bring him under control.
Former Lt. Debra Johnson, who was the night commander that day, told jurors the action was justified under jail policies in an effort to control the inmate, WTOC-TV reported.
Sheriff Al St. Lawrence fired eight deputies in connection with Ajibade's death. But none of those involved in the jailhouse brawl were charged with crimes.
Instead, it was Kenny, who shocked Ajibade with a Taser after he had been restrained, as well as Evans and Brown, who are accused of neglecting to check his medical condition, who were charged for policy and procedure violations that prosecutors say contributed to Ajibade's death.
Defense attorneys say the three former jail employees aren't to blame for the young man's death.
Jurors saw jail surveillance video Thursday that showed Ajibade sitting alone in a cell strapped into a restraining chair from 12:09 a.m. until 1:42 a.m. without any jail staff checking on his well-being.
Johnson, the former lieutenant, testified at one point that night that she heard Evans say "she got busy and forgot to check on him," the Savannah Morning News reported (http://bit.ly/1FV7lcD).
State medical examiner Stacey Desamours testified earlier in the week that several factors could have contributed to Ajibade's death, including the struggle with jailers and being struck by a stun gun.
Chatham County coroner Dr. Bill Wessinger said Ajibade suffered several blunt injuries to his head and upper body and had blood inside his skull case.