For the first time since an inmate’s death, and 9 deputies fired in connection with his passing, Chatham County’s Sheriff’s spoke out.
“I know there are questions in this country about police misconduct,” said Al St Lawrence. “I’m aware of them, and I’m not covering up for anybody.”
Sheriff Al St Lawrence starting a news conference he asked for with a defiant statement.
“I’ve heard this talk about use of the taser and how we use it all the time. That’s not the truth,” said St Lawrence. “We use it when we have to.”
Then he followed up with statistics. The Sheriff saying .0087 percent of more than 24,000 inmates have been tased in the last 17 months.
But 41 of his own deputies are injured every month in assaults by prisoners.
“We try to handle this as best we can without the use of tasers, that’s not always possible,” said the Sheriff.
“But isn’t one person getting tased too high?”
“One officer getting hurt is too high.”
“There’s more than just tasers that people have questions about.”
“We try to manhandle them when we can.”
“I’m not running a summer camp in here, i’m running a prison. And I intend to run it as it should be run.”
We then asked him about the fact the jail had no policy when it came to mental patients, and that the entire procedural manual was changed since Matthew Ajibade’s death.
“Why was that necessary for that significant change?”
“Because it was recommended by consultants.”
“Did it have anything to do with Ajibade’s death?”
“Not Necessarily. it’s a review of policy and procedure they didn’t find was adequate and they made some changes and we accepted those changes, and we will accept any changes they may find in the future.”
Matthew Ajibade was tased while restrained. That’s something the sheriff says is unacceptable.
“When they are in full restraints they will not be tased. Anybody who violates that rule is outta here.”
“Do you have anyone here now that has violated that rule?”
“Not that I know of.”
“We may have made errors. I am looking at that now.”
But he wouldn’t admit fault for everything.
When pushed on those errors leading to inmates getting tased on average more than most jails in the state?
“I don’t know what other communities are doing and I don’t care. I’m looking at everything and I have the consultants looking at everything and I’ll go from there.”
Sheriff St Lawrence said he could not directly address the Matthew Ajibade case because it is still under investigation, lawsuits are pending and about to be in front of a Grand Jury.
The Sheriff said any errors made inside the jail were “not” due to lack of training.
Deputies get 5 weeks in the classroom and 4 weeks on the floor with a training officer.
Sheriff St Lawrence says he is willing to let the consultants decide what if any more changes need to be made.