Sometime in the early hours of January 2nd, 2015, Mathew Ajibade died while strapped to a restraining chair in the Chatham County Detention Center. For months, we’ve fought for answers from authorities in Savannah who went through great lengths to conceal the truth.
Two weeks ago, I sat silently next to Mathew’s cousin Chris in a courtroom -- not in the capacity of a lawyer, but as a victim’s advocate -- and we saw the evidence for the first time. We learned from videos that Mathew struggled with deputies only after they had violently tackled him to the ground. And we learned from graphic video that, while Mathew sat motionless in the restraint chair, he was tased in the groin -- an act I’ve called sadistic torture.
I also learned the disappointment of an anemic verdict -- all officers indicted were acquitted of manslaughter. I have, and always will, respect any jury’s verdict; they are the backbone of our criminal justice system. But the man who tased Mathew while restrained was even acquitted of aggravated assault and will face sentencing only for cruelty for an inmate. I’ve linked to the video of the tasing, but hesitate to recommend that you watch it.
Soon I’ll be able to serve Mathew’s family as a lawyer, not just an advocate, and I won’t have to sit silently in the courtroom.