Officers Acquitted Following Torture, Death of Inmate

Two former Chatham County, Georgia, officers were acquitted of manslaughter in the death of 21-year-old Mathew Ajibade, a Nigerian college student. The officers are former deputy Jason Kenny, 31, and his former supervisor Cpl. Maxine Evans, 56.


On New Years Day, Ajibade’s girlfriend called the police after the two had an argument and Ajibade struck her. She informed the police that Ajibade suffered from bipolar disorder and may have been experiencing a manic episode, and she provided authorities with Ajibade’s medication. Rather than take him to a hospital, though, they took him to jail, where he subsequently had to be restrained after not complying with and injuring officers. He was punched and kicked in his cell. He was stripped to his underwear and strapped to a chair. Despite already being restrained, Ajibade was tasered numerous times around his genitals. At 1:38 am on Jan. 2, Ajibade was found unresponsive in his cell and could not be revived.

The coroner ruled Ajibade’s death a homicide, and the autopsy report stated that he died from “blunt force trauma a combination of abrasions, lacerations, skin injuries about the head and some other areas of the body.”

Kenny was convicted of cruelty to an inmate, while Evans was convicted of public records fraud and three counts of perjury. The nurse at the jail the night of the homicide, Gregory Brown, was also charged with manslaughter but acquitted. He was instead convicted of perjury for lying about checking on Ajibade.

The coroner ruled Ajibade’s death a homicide, and the autopsy report stated that he died from “blunt force trauma a combination of abrasions, lacerations, skin injuries about the head and some other areas of the body.”

Kenny, Evans and seven other deputies were fired in May due to their roles in Ajibade’s death. Still, some members of the department stood by the actions taken on the evening in question. Former Lt. Debra Johnson, who was one of the supervisors on duty on the night of Ajibade’s death, said of the video while testifying, “That force is considered to be justified.” Despite this belief, Johnson was forced to retire due to her involvement in the homicide.

Mark O’Mara, the Ajibade family’s attorney, said of the incident, “There has been this philosophy of disrespect and then covering up for it.”

However, Ajibade’s family was not surprised by the unfortunate outcome of the trial.

“I knew that that same system that failed Mathew would not be the system that got him justice,” said Chris Oladapo, Ajibade’s cousin. “I had already warned my family not to expect anything.”

While disappointing, the verdict is by no means surprising, as Oladapo pointed out. This past July, the system also failed Sandra Bland, who was arrested following a routine traffic stop gone wrong and later found dead in her jail cell. Just one month later, Ralkina Jones met a similar fate; hours after telling officers, “I don’t want to die in your cell,” Jones’s worst fear came true.

“We expected nothing,” Oladapo said, “and we got nothing.”

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