Policy or Procedure?

Did Chatham County prosecutors indict a jail nurse in the death of Mathew Ajibade at the Chatham County jail based on a policy that didn't exist and with evidence pulled from an internet search?

When Corizon Correctional Healthcare nurse Gregory Brown was indicted in June for involuntary manslaughter, prosecutors alleged he failed to check Mathew Ajibade in a restraint chair every fifteen minutes — then lied in an official record that he had performed the checks.

But information uncovered in a continuing News 3 investigation seems to indicate the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office has no policy that requires a nurse to check on an inmate every fifteen minutes.

The actual policy: every two hours.

It’s right there in the CCSO policy and procedure on restraint chairs:

“Medical personnel must check the inmate, at a minimum, every two hours.”

Records indicate Mathew Ajibade was not in a restraint chair for two hours. So from where did the “every 15 minutes” accusation against Nurse Brown originate?

A source with knowledge of restraint chair policy says it comes from a three-page procedure which spells out the precise conditions for the grounds, use and maintenance of a restraint chair, submitted to the court by prosecutor Christie Barker on Aug. 28 and described as:

“Documents identified as restraint chair procedures.”

The document was certified as authentic by Chatham County Lt. Bobby Irvin.

But when Brown’s attorney’s begin asking questions about the document, Barker responds in an e-mail:

“I am told it is a procedure, not a policy.”

Brown’s attorneys Google the identifying code and found it Oklahoma Department of Corrections policy and procedure guide.

A source who attended restraint chair training at the jail told News 3 the document was printed from a Google search by Chatham Sheriff’s trainers because they found their own policy was vague and incomplete; they went searching online for something with which to better train their officers.

But, according to our source, nurses — like Gregory Brown – did not receive that training.

So how can a nurse be charged for a policy that doesn’t appear to exist and a procedure on which he was not trained? A judge will decide if the document is admissible as a sheriff’s office “procedure.”

But while attorneys will fight over that word – procedure – the official policy at the sheriff’s office changed six months after ajibade’s death: restrained inmates are never periodically checked under the new policy, because they must always remain in sight.

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