For more than five months, we’ve been fighting for answers regarding how and why Mathew Ajibade died while in custody at the Chatham County Detention Center in Savannah, Georgia. Last week, we learned that Mathew’s death has been ruled a homicide from blunt force trauma -- but we didn’t get this information from the Sheriff or from the District Attorney: it was leaked on the Internet.
Since we have been on the case, 9 deputies involved in the incident with Mathew have been fired. The jail administrator has stepped down. Policies have been changed and a consultant has been brought in. But it is not enough. These actions have been taken only after we brought public scrutiny to the case, and we feel it is all an effort to distract attention from the real problem: systematic failures stemming from the poor leadership of the Sheriff himself, and systemic biases against those who need help most: mentally challenged individuals and any citizen arrested and housed in a correctional facility.
This week, we filed a motion seeking to have District Attorney Meg Heap replaced, citing her multiple conflicts of interest including her cozy relationship with the Sheriff. Last week, I appeared on CNN as an advocate, urging that the powers in Savannah be transparent and forthcoming so Mathew’s family can get the answers they deserve, and so that don’t have to endure the torment of learning the details of Mathew’s death as they are leaked out, one by one, on the Internet.