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Georgia Deputies Acquitted of Manslaughter Charges in the Death of Mathew Ajibade

Matt Ajibade
Mathew Ajibade

Two former Georgia deputies have been acquitted of manslaughter charges in the death of Mathew Ajibade, a man who suffered from a bipolar condition. Ajibade is just one of several Black people who have died in police custody. The death of Sandra Bland, an Illinois woman who died in a Texas jail this summer, raised national awareness about the problem.

NBC News said the deputies, Jason Kenny and Maxine Evans, were found guilty of lesser charges. Kenny was convicted on cruelty charges for using a stun gun on Ajibade and faces one to three years in jail. Evans was convicted of falsifying records. A jury also convicted nurse Gregory Brown of perjury for saying he had checked Ajibade in, when security footage showed he had not.

Police arrested Ajibade on New Year’s Day after he allegedly hit his girlfriend and broke a deputy’s nose during a bipolar episode. Deputies were shown on security footage repeatedly shocking Ajibade in the groin while in a restraint chair, a device Amnesty International says should be banned, according to NBC News. A coroner’s report ruled his death a homicide.

Ajibade’s family were not surprised by the decision.

“I knew that that same system that failed Mathew would not be the system that got him justice,” said Chris Oladapo, Ajibade’s cousin, in an interview with NBC News. “I had already warned my family not to expect anything. We expected nothing, and we got nothing.”

The Ajibade family has hired Mark O’Mara, the attorney who successfully defended George Zimmerman, to represent them in a potential civil suit. According to the number-crunching website, FiveThirtyEight.com, police officers are rarely convicted for misconduct, and members of the general public are convicted at a higher rate than police officers. Citing figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, the site reports that 68 percent of the general public was convicted and 48 percent incarcerated when charged with a crime. However, only 33 percent of police officers were convicted and only 12 percent were incarcerated.

In 2014, the website accurately predicted the Department of Justice would not press charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who killed Michael Brown.

“Outside of the unlikely event that federal charges are pressed, his (Wilson) chance of being convicted and incarcerated for Brown’s death is almost zero,” said FiveThirtyEight writer Reuben Fischer-Baum.

In May, the DOJ announced they would not be pursuing charges against Wilson.

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