An Augusta man died Monday, one week after scuffling with officers during a traffic stop and sparking a GBI investigation that has four officers on administrative leave.
Jermaine Jones, 24, was pronounced dead at 2:08 p.m. Monday at Augusta University Medical Center, according to Coroner Mark Bowen. His family said he had been brain dead for several days from injuries suffered while in police custody. An autopsy is scheduled at the GBI Lab.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office confirmed four officers involved in the Oct. 11 traffic stop on Highland Avenue were placed on administrative leave Friday . They include Investigator Richard Russell and deputies Leslie Gaiter, Parker Leathers and Christopher Brown.
The traffic stop began routinely when officers pulled over a 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe because they had a tinted tag cover obstructing the actual tag, according to a sheriff’s report. Jones was sitting in the back while his father was in the front passenger seat, and his uncle, Willie Baker, was driving.
During the stop, Russell arrived with members of the Crime Suppression Team, and Brown asked Baker if he would consent to a search of the vehicle. Baker agreed. A drug K9 arrived and alerted to “the odor or narcotics in the vehicle,” the report says.
All three men were removed and placed on the curb.
From the report: “While Investigator (Christopher) Brown began searching the area where Jermaine Jones Jr. was sitting, Jermaine Jones Jr. stood up in front of Inv. Russell and stated to his father he was going to run. At this time Investigator Brown located a 9mm Glock 26 Handgun … and a glass crack pipe under the right rear passenger seat. Jermaine Jones then tried to run from Deputies. Inv. Russell then deployed his taser striking Jones in the back causing him to fall to the ground. After a brief struggle, Jones was taken into custody.”
At the time of the stop, Jones was on probation as a first offender for aggravated assault after being sentenced in April in Richmond County Superior Court.
RCSO officials said Jones experienced a medical emergency on the way to the jail and was re-routed to the hospital. The next day, the sheriff’s office requested an independent GBI investigation.
Jones’ family have called for the release of all body-cam footage. That has not happened.
Jones’ fiancée, Letayia Anderson, said Tuesday that she believes narcotics officers had been targeting people for a while. And she believes the sheriff’s office is “corrupt.”
“A week before this I was pulled over for a ‘seatbelt violation,’ and next thing I know my car had to be searched after I refused,” Anderson said. “But they got a narcotics dog and said it got a hit on my car. Now mind you, I don’t even smoke or like the smell of any type of cigarettes, plus it was a car I just got in August so it was close to brand new. I’m over the corrupt RCSO,” Anderson said.
The fiancée also said a walk to honor Jones is planned Oct. 31. A location has not been set.
“My personal feelings I’m sad and I’m angry. I didn’t want him off the ventilator but I’m just a fiancée and legally that means nothing. Me and my daughter are sad and hurt and broken. She has began to have nightmares and cries in her sleep, cries for her dad, and I feel helpless,” Anderson said.
She said the sheriff’s office may have good cops, but she feels that they all will be bad if someone doesn’t speak up about the truth that happened that night.
“Somebody knows and hiding it makes them all guilty,” Anderson said.