Richard Russell, Leslie Gaiter, Parker Leathers, and Christopher Brown, four deputies of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Department, have returned to duty after being placed on leave following their roles in the death of a Black man during an arrest following a traffic check in Augusta, Georgia.
Jermaine Jones spent over a week in a coma at Augusta University Medical Center before passing away this month after suffering significant brain injuries while being arrested on Oct. 11.
While the Richmond County Coroner’s Office investigates the series of events that occurred after deputies stopped the black SUV that the 24-year-old was riding in on the day of the incident, Investigator Russell and deputies Leathers, Gaiter, and Brown have been placed on paid administrative leave.
According to WRDW, Brown noticed the vehicle and approached it because it had a tinted license plate cover. More deputies came shortly after, including Leathers, Russell, and Gaiter, who had recently been involved in another use-of-force incident.
Jones’ uncle was driving and agreed to let the officers search the vehicle, where a police dog discovered a 9mm Glock 26 handgun and a crack pipe in the back seat where Jones was sitting.
The 24-year-old, who was already on probation for a previous offense, fled. Russell tased the young man, according to records obtained by the TV station, and deputies were able to subdue Jones after a “short fight.”
“They started swinging on him, punching him, hitting his body parts in the head and whatnot,” the victim’s father, Jermaine Jones Sr., told WXFG. He wasn’t putting up any resistance. They were all piled on top of him. He stated that he was unable to breathe.”
Jones’ mother, Keyana Gaines, told the publication that she “just wants answers” and that she has yet to see the body camera footage.
Jones was rushed to the hospital after experiencing a “medical emergency” in the rear of the squad car en route to the county jail. When doctors put Jones in a medically induced coma, he apparently had significant brain damage. On Monday, Oct. 18, he was pronounced dead.
The matter was handed up to the Georgia Bureau of Inquiry for an investigation into the use of force. Despite all four individuals returning to duty, an agency official told reporters that the probe was “active and ongoing.” Jones’ autopsy has not yet been completed, according to Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen.
So yet, only the victim has been charged. Jones was charged with one felony count of first-time gun possession and one misdemeanor count of obstruction.
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