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The death of a 21-year-old Nigerian college student in an isolation cell in Savannah, Georgia on New Year’s Day has been ruled a homicide by Chatham County coroner William Wessinger, according to CNN.
The cause of death for Matthew Ajibade is listed as blunt force trauma, a combination of several things, including “abrasions, lacerations, skin injuries about the head and some other areas of the body. There was some small amount of blood inside the skull case,” the report says.
Wessinger stressed that homicide means only that another person was involved. It is not tantamount to murder, though it includes murder, he said.
Nine Chatham County deputies were fired in connection with Ajibade’s death last month, said Gena Bilbo, spokeswoman for the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office. Cpl. Maxine Evans and Cpl. Jason Kenny, two of those nine deputies had been on paid leave for “inappropriate actions” in the case, Bilbo said.
Ajibade, whose family said he had bipolar disorder, reportedly “became combative during the booking process,” the sheriff’s office said in an incident report. But his family challenges the allegation, saying he was a “geeky kid” who traveled to Savannah to study computer science.
The family’s attorney Mark O’Mara, a CNN legal analyst who represented George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin, said the death certificate only raises more questions.
“First of all, they knew (the cause of death) back in January, I’m sure. This (death certificate) was signed May 8, and a month later we find out about it … . I just don’t see how they can be so insensitive to the man, and insensitive to the family’s grief,” O’Mara said. “They have hid this from us for five months. It makes no sense.”
Ajibade’s death is a travesty, and we hope his family gets justice.