On New Year’s Eve in Savannah, Georgia, a young black man lost his life in police custody. As usual with these cases, there are more questions than answers. But everyone agrees that Matthew Ojibade, 22, should not have died at the police station but should have been in a hospital as his family requested. Ojibade suffered from bipolar disorder, a mental condition that can cause extreme episodes of manic behavior in individuals. Ojibade was threatening his girlfriend and holding her underneath a blanket when police officers arrived at the scene.
His family wanted police to take him to the hospital and provided his medical information, including his medication, to the officers. Instead Ojibade was taken into police custody and transported to the Chatham County Detention Center. It was there according to law enforcement that he became violent, injuring several officers, and was placed into what is known as a “restraint chair.”
It was during his time in the chair that when police checked on him, they found him unresponsive. Now the family wants to know why Ojibade is dead and why he was not taken to the hospital as requested. To aid them in getting answers, they have not contacted well-known Black attorney Benjamin Crump, who has been at the forefront of such cases, instead the family has turned to former George Zimmerman attorney and CNN analyst Mark O’Mara. Among the questions the family is seeking a response to are the following:
Was he beaten?
Was it filmed?
What injuries did he suffer in the process of being restrained?
Was he given medical attention for his injuries?
What does the autopsy show as his cause of death?
This is not the first time a prisoner has died in the custody of the Savannah police. Recently, Charles Smith, handcuffed and in the back of a police car, was shot and killed by an officer this past September after they said he found a way out of the vehicle and somehow produced a gun. In addition, this past November, the former chief of police in Savannah was convicted on federal charges of extortion, gambling, obstruction of justice, and other charges. For now the family is in agony trying to cope with the loss of their loved one at the beginning of the new year.