The family of a Georgia man has hired George Zimmerman’s former attorney to help investigate the death of the 22-year-old, who died in police custody after an argument with his girlfriend on New Year’s Day, according to WSAV Channel 3.
Matthew Ojibade’s family has retained Mark O’Mara, the CNN analyst who helped win an acquittal for Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the 2012 shooting that ostensibly sparked the national #BlackLivesMatter movement against police violence in the Black community.
No lawsuits have been filed in the Ojibade (pictured) case, O’Mara said Tuesday at a news conference with the family in Savannah, Ga., where the incident occurred. He said he is trying to piece together exactly how Ojibade, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, died at the Chatham County Detention Center in Savannah, Ga., after he was arrested by sheriff’s deputies, the report says.
“I hope [sheriff’s deputies are] just going to be open, honest and straight forward with why they did what they did because we know it had a tragic result,” Omara said at the news conference. “He’s dead.”
The incident began on New Year’s Day after Ojibade’s girlfriend called the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office during a domestic squabble. Ojibade reportedly was having a manic episode, a symptom of bipolar disorder, the report says. The girlfriend, O’Mara states, asked officers to take Ojibade to the hospital. While the police report does not mention the request, the television news outlet reports, it does state that the girlfriend handed over a bottle of prescription pills to deputies at the time of the arrest.
Responding officers say in the police report that Ojibade was holding his girlfriend under a blanket when they arrived [and] refused to let her go—and that she had visible injuries, the news station reports. After Ojibade’s arrest, the events become murky, according to WSAV.
O’Mara says, “Unfortunately this turned from helping, to an arrest pretty quickly and we want to know why—we want to know why the family’s request that he be brought to the hospital—which seemed to be reasonable – were not heeded.”…
Ojibade was taken to the Chatham County Detention Center that evening. According to the Sheriff’s Office, he fought with deputies during booking – injured several – and had to be restrained. “My understanding was because of his behavior, he was put into a restraining chair and that’s a tool that law enforcement uses – and they’re allowed to use – and even in occasions supposed to use,” says O’Mara.
The Sheriff’s Office says Ojibade was checked on twice while isolated—the second found unresponsive. Efforts to resuscitate him failed…
The incident comes as the Black community and law enforcement officers are locked in a nationwide battle over police violence against Blacks, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City. The deaths served as examples in the fight that rose to public consciousness after the murder of Trayvon Martin. The unarmed Black teen was shot and killed by Zimmerman as he walked home after buying iced tea and Skittles in Sanford, Fla., simply because he looked suspicious to the former night watch-captain.
O’Mara, who helped win Zimmerman win an acquittal in Martin’s death, now finds himself on the other side of the debate. We hope he helps Objibade’s family find some answers, and ultimately justice.