Investigator gave 'inaccurate information' in jail death

AP News
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Posted: Oct 12, 2015 2:43 PM

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A state investigator testified Monday he gave incorrect information to a grand jury that indicted a former jail nurse and two ex-sheriff's deputies in the death of a detainee.

Gregory Brown was working as a contract nurse at the Chatham County jail in January when 21-year-old Mathew Ajibade died in a cell a few hours after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge. Brown and his two co-defendants were indicted on involuntary manslaughter charges and have been on trial for the past week.

The indictment against Brown charges him for "failing to monitor" Ajibade, who had been injured in a fight with deputies trying to book him Jan. 1. But Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Cyrus Purdiman testified Monday that he incorrectly told grand jurors that Brown was required to check on Ajibade every 15 minutes.

"That was inaccurate information," Purdiman testified during the trial in Chatham County Superior Court. "However, it was the information I had at the time."

Purdiman told the trial jury Monday that he later learned the jail's policy requires deputies and other security staff to check the condition of inmates being held in restraints in 15-minute intervals. He said the policy mandates checks by nurses and other medical staff every two hours, the Savannah Morning News (http://bit.ly/1RCMfkn ) reported.

The 15-minute requirement "doesn't apply to Gregory Brown under the circumstances," Purdiman testified in response to a question by Tom Withers, Brown's defense attorney.

Also charged in Ajibade's death are former Cpl. Jason Kenny, who is accused of shocking Ajibade with a Taser four times while his hands were cuffed and his legs were bound by restraints, and former Cpl. Maxine Evans, who, along with Brown, is accused of failing to monitor Ajibade's medical condition.

Prosecutors say both Evans and Brown faked jail logs to make it appear mandated checks had been performed, while jail surveillance video shows Ajibade was strapped into a restrain chair and left alone in a cell for 90 minutes before Evans found him dead.

Jail surveillance video showed Ajibade fought deputies trying to book him and grabbed a Taser from one of them. One deputy bloodied Ajibade with two punches to the face, while another kicked him in the head.

Sheriff Al St. Lawrence fired eight deputies in connection with Ajibade's death, but none of the deputies involved in the fight were charged. A former jail watch commander has testified that deputies were justified in using force during the brawl, in which Ajibade injured two jailers.

Attorneys for Ajibade's family in Hyattsville, Maryland, have said he suffered from bipolar disorder and they suspect he became violent during a manic episode at the jail.