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Nine Chatham County sheriff’s deputies have been fired in the wake of the death of a 21-year-old mentally ill man in Savannah, Georgia, according to CNN.

The firings follow an investigation into the death of Matthew Ajibade, who died in an isolation cell on New Year’s Day, said Gena Bilbo, the Chatham County Sheriff’s spokeswoman. Two of the nine deputies who were fired had been on paid leave.

Ajibade, who was from Nigeria, was arrested on January 1 after police received a phone call about a domestic disturbance, the report says.

Ajibade had bipolar disorder, according to his family’s lawyer Mark O’Mara, the same CNN legal analyst who represented George Zimmerman in the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

From NBC News:

The girlfriend had been struck and had blood on her cheek when Chatham County police arrived, a source said.

Instead of taking Ajibade to the hospital for mental health treatment, they arrested him and booked him in jail. What role, exactly, the deputies played in Ajibade’s death has not been made public; both the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Affairs Division of the Sheriff’s Office are doing separate reviews.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement in January that Ajibade started fighting with deputies once he got to the Chatham County Detention Center.

The sheriff’s office has instituted new policies to check on the use of stun guns in jail and notify medical staff immediately when a detainee requiring medication arrives, reports the New York Daily News:

Supervisors Cpl. Maxine Evans and Cpl. Jason Kenny were suspended after the death and fired Friday.

The other fired deputies include: Pvt. Eric Vinson, Pvt. Abram Burns, Pvt. Christopher Reed, Pvt. Burt Ambrose, Pvt. Paul Folsome, Pvt. Frederick Burke and Pvt. Andrew Evans-Martinez.

“The fact that nine people were fired tells us how terrible this incident was,” Will Claiborne, an attorney for Ajibade’s family, said in a statement. “But the family still has no answers about what happened to Matthew.”

This is yet another example of a mentally ill Black man who died after a psychotic break, or after friends or family called police for help getting him medical treatment. The case also represents another example of the dire need for law enforcement retraining when it comes dealing with mentally ill people, especially those who are Black.



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9 Georgia Deputies Fired After 21-Year-Old Mentally Ill Man Dies In Custody  was originally published on