EXCLUSIVE: First Written Account of Ajibade Death from Inside Chatham County Jail

EXCLUSIVE: First Written Account of Ajibade Death from Inside Chatham County Jail (Image 1)

 It appears as an entry in the Chatham County Detention Center’s Watch Commanders Log for Jan. 2, entered 18 minutes after midnight:

“10-78 called at 2355 hours in (R&D)”

10-78 is the jail code for distress call.

2355 means the call went out a few minutes before midnight, Jan. 1, from receiving and discharge.

The account continues:

“I/M Ajibade, Matthew became combative while being processed. Sgt. Rowland drive-    stunned the inmate to gain compliance.”

That would be Sgt. Anza Rowland, who is not one of the twelve deputies that the Sheriff’s Office has confirmed were part of the Ajibade encounter.

“Drive-stun” is a term describing the use of a taser on a person.

And then:

“He [Ajibade] grabbed the taser from her and a struggle ensued. He drive-stunned her,     Pvt. Capers and Pvt. Vinson. He also struck Sgt. Rowland in the face with the taser and     she fell backwards to the floor. She was transported to MMC via EMS.”

Privates Capers and Vinson – two of the deputies since fired.

Vinson was one of the nine deputies fired Friday for his still unexplained involvement.

Capers was fired in February for his use of unnecessary force on another inmate three weeks after Ajibade’s death.


“Inmate was secured in the restraint chair with a spit mask. Nurse Brown checked and     approved restraints. All paged sent out and reports to be filed.”

The entry ends with no explanation of how Ajibade died, nor does it say when – or who found his body.

It also does not specify whether the distress call was made in the violent encounter or the discover of Ajibade’s body.

The placement of the distress call entry in the log also raises questions. Ten other entries about events seemingly after the distress call appear in the log before the distress call, including:

  • notifying the jail’s administration and internal affairs
  • injury reports on the deputies involved
  • the arrival and departure of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation

Savannah-Chatham Metro Police’s report says their officers responded to Ajibade’s apparent psychotic episode at 6:15 p.m. the night of Jan. 1. The log places GBI on the scene at 5:45 a.m. the next morning, which leaves a nearly twelve-hour window, which contains a flurry of activity, but no details on what happened after Matthew Ajibade purportedly grabbed Sgt. Anza Rowland’s taser.

Initially, all of our requests for information in the Ajibade death were denied by the Chatham County Attorney’s Office.

It took WSAV’s attorneys demanding initial incident reports of Ajibade’s death, which can never be withheld under the Georgia Open Records Act. The demand resulted in the Sheriff and District Attorney taking WSAV to court for a declaratory judgment for more records in the Ajibade death.

WSAV and its attorneys believe these records cannot legally be withheld from the public.
We asked the Sheriff’s Office about how jail logs are kept. They responded through the County Attorney’s office that Georgia’s Open Records Law does not require them to answer our questions. They would only confirm the police code for distress call, and referred our remaining questions about Sheriff’s Office procedure to the Chatham County District Attorney.

District Attorney Meg Heap would not comment.

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