HomeNewsCrime & CourtsOpinion: Family, Community Deserve Answers in Jermaine Jones, Jr.’s death

Opinion: Family, Community Deserve Answers in Jermaine Jones, Jr.’s death

Author

Date

Jermaine Jones Jr.’s family last heard his voice on Oct. 11, 2021.

Following a traffic stop that resulted in a tasing, a “struggle” and an arrest, Jones suffered a “medical emergency” while in police custody. He ended up at Augusta University Medical Center (AUMC) braindead and passed away a week later. He was 24 years old.

In addition to a grieving mother, father and uncle (the latter two witnessed his arrest), Jones leaves behind his fiancée and their 3-year-old daughter.

But his family has more than grief. They have unanswered questions; questions currently under review by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).

The most important question: What caused the multiple head injuries that led to Jones’ death?

That question remains unanswered even after his family was allowed to watch two of the eight videos that captured the incident.

“Yes, they showed him being tased. But it’s not showing the injuries my son [purportedly] got from the tasing,” said Jones’ mother, Keyanna Gaines to WJBF NewsChannel 6’s Chloe Salsameda. “It’s not adding up.”

GBI officials informed the family they will be able to watch the remaining videos once their investigation is over, possibly in a few weeks.

According to the police incident report, the car Jones was in (driven by his uncle, with his father in the passenger seat) was pulled over on Highland Avenue for a tinted tag cover. At some point (and the report doesn’t explain why), Investigator Richard Russell showed up with members of the Crime Suppression Team.

[adrotate banner=”55″]

Jermaine’s uncle consented to a vehicle search, and all three occupants were removed from the car. When the search turned up a handgun and crack pipe under Jones’ seat (he was on probation), Jones told his father that he was going to run, according to Deputy Christopher Brown in his police report.

As he fled, Investigator Russell shot a taser into his back, “causing him to fall on the ground.” Then, following what the report refers to as “a brief struggle,” Jermaine Jones Jr. was arrested and taken into police custody.

But according to his father, Jermaine Jones Sr., there was far more than a “brief struggle.” He contends that his son was beaten.

“They started swinging on him, hitting him, hitting his body parts in the head and stuff,” he said. “He wasn’t resisting. They was all on his stomach. He said he couldn’t breathe.”

According to Jones’ fiancée, Letayia Anderson, doctors told the family that a tasing and fall to the ground did not explain the blunt force trauma to multiple parts of his head. His medical records show he had “a significant brain hemorrhage in multiple parts of his brain” along with bruising and swelling.

“His brain was about to basically pop,” Anderson said. “There was too much pressure.”

This leads to a series of unanswered questions. According to his family, Jermaine seemed normal as he was being led to a patrol car following the struggle. His father talked with him and told him to call from the jail when he got there, but he never arrived.

MORE: Four Richmond County Deputies on Leave for Traffic Stop Turned Deadly

At some point during his transportation, he began to show signs of a “medical emergency,” according to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO), and was driven to AUMC.

When he arrived at the hospital, he was showing seizure-like symptoms. He was confused and couldn’t say who he was or what had happened to him. He was later placed in an induced coma from which he never regained consciousness.

So, at what point after his arrest did Jones start showing symptoms? When did officers notice these symptoms, and when did they decide to divert him to the hospital? How long did it take to get him there?

The family didn’t discover he was in critical condition until the next day at 11 a.m. They only learned that he was in the hospital because a nurse contacted his mother on Facebook.

The last series of questions revolves around the police officers who conducted Jones’ arrest. Four officers were placed on administrative leave following the incident: Investigator Richard Russell and deputies Leslie Gaiter, Parker Leathers and Christopher Brown. They have all since returned to work.

MORE: Family of Injured Suspect Calls for Sheriff’s Office To Release of Bodycam Footage

Officer Brown made the initial traffic stop, but it is unknown why it escalated to a search.

Did Officer Brown request backup, and if so, why did he feel the need to on what was a routine traffic stop? Who, if anyone, requested the presence of Investigator Russell and the Crime Suppression Team?

According to an Augusta Press article by Greg Rickenbaugh, Letayia Anderson believes that narcotics officers have been “targeting” people for a while. She said she was pulled over a week prior to Jermaine’s arrest for a seatbelt violation. Her car was searched after a narcotics dog got a hit on her vehicle. Anderson found this suspicious as she does not even smoke cigarettes, and her car was almost brand new.

Two of the officers, Investigator Russell and Deputy Gaiter, have incidents in their pasts.

Investigator Russell, who shot Jones with his stun-gun, has a history of conflicts with both civilians and fellow officers. He has been written up at least eight times for violations by the RCSO. He was initially denied his peace officer certification for not disclosing a previous charge of aggravated stalking. As a deputy, he was involved in an incident where he pulled an elderly woman out of her car and threw her to the ground. He arrested her, but her charge was later dismissed because his report did not line up with bodycam footage.

Deputy Gaiter was involved in an incident in August in which he rushed a woman filming her son’s arrest. Her arm was broken, and the footage later went viral. The RCSO launched an internal investigation, the details of which have not been made public.

According to Jermaine Jones Sr., Gaiter was the one on top of his son, punching him. But his bodycam footage was not among the videos shown to the family.

[adrotate banner=”51″]

Why was Deputy Gaiter not placed on leave during the investigation for the August incident? And why have these officers returned to work with the investigation into Jermaine Jones Jr.’s death ongoing?

As Ahmaud Arbery’s trial continues in Brunswick, Ga., it’s important to remember that the men who killed Arbery were only charged after footage of the incident was released to the public, months after his death. Following the country’s reckoning with police violence last year, sparked by the death of George Floyd, we have unfortunately learned that we cannot expect our law enforcement institutions always to investigate and police themselves adequately. Oftentimes, an officer faces no consequences until footage is spread to the public and the public demands accountability.

That is why it is in the best interest of the GBI, the RCSO and the Augusta community in general for the investigation into Jermaine Jones Jr.’s untimely death to be concluded adequately and in good time. Its results need to be made readily available to his family and the community, and all eight videos should be released to the public as soon as possible. Any officers found culpable in Jones’ death must be dismissed from the force and indicted on appropriate charges.

Furthermore, Richmond County needs to review its police officers and procedures to determine what led to this incident, and to implement changes that will prevent further tragedies.

And before the comments roll in attempting to justify Jones’ death because of his criminal past or his failure to comply, a reminder: police are not meant to be judge, jury and executioner. They are there to protect the public, not to dole out punishment to suspects as they see fit.

In the meantime, Jermaine’s family has pledged to make sure we don’t forget him.

“They’re going to hear his name until the day I die because he can’t fight,” Gaines said to Salsameda. “They took a precious child. He was precious to us. No mother should have to lose her child, especially by people who are sworn to serve and protect.”

Marcus Plumlee is a Columnist for The Augusta Press. Reach him at [email protected]

6 COMMENTS

  1. You can take up for dumbshits that break the law all you want but his statement “I’m going to run” makes him guilty and deserving of the tasing. If his actions of running caused him to be tased, then the action of falling onto the concrete and hurting himself more is all his fault. We are all sick and tired of the lawlessness of youths thinking it is OK to run from the law, fight back against the law, etc. If they can’t be respectful and say yes sir, turn around put their hands behind their backs, and peacefully be arrested then let whatever happens be their fault.

  2. Yes let demand answers before the investigation is complete..this is how stuff like the false hands up don’t Shiite narrative starts..also? Don’t run from the police..it never leads to anything good..niw if shown the officers acted in any malicious way I’ll be the first to say throw the book at thenm but thanks to the media people want to crucify officers first and investigate after the media gives this all police are bad narrative..

  3. Marcus Plumlee: I am a moderate-conservative white guy who believes in accountability. However, I am pleased with your approach to journalism. You are an excellent writer, and you provide a point-of-view that offers your readers food-for-thought, so to speak. Here’s what I’m thinking: Why not let the kid run away? Where’s he going to go? He’ll show up soon enough and a proper arrest will be made; one where cooler heads prevail. It is TRUE that many police officers are driven by a dark ego that does not leave much room for compassion. I am not attempting to place myself in their shoes, but as a high school teacher for many years, I learned that there is a formula for calming unruly behavior. And yes, more times than not, this formula is successful. As stated, I am an “accountability” guy, and a handgun and crack pipe are sure giveaways that further investigation by a police officer is warranted. But, we as a community (including the police) need to re-think the steps of civility before allowing physical violence to escalate. I hope that you continue to write for the Augusta Press.

  4. I’ve known parents who admitted that they tell their children to run from the law enforcement (LE) officers when they are approached, stopped, detained, or arrested. No matter if the attempt to elude the LE results in more charges, property damage, personal injury, or death. These parents also settled scores personally rather than report harassment, threats, or an assault on their child to LE.

    I’m an old, white guy. I know and do the drill – hands where they can be seen, ID out, “Yes, sir.”, “No, sir.” If I’m driving – car in Park, engine off, keys on dash, and windows down. A little cooperation and respect go a long way. when dealing with an over-worked, under-paid, unappreciated, and sometimes disrespected human who carries lethal-force weapons and wants to go home, alive, to his family at the end of the shift.

    “Furthermore, Richmond County needs to review its police officers and procedures to determine what led to this incident, and to implement changes that will prevent further tragedies.” Nobody outside of LEO will accept any responsibility for this death, but LEO will be tagged with it, whether they deserve it or not.

  5. This incident has too many unanswered questions that need to answered. The police are there to enforce the law, not judge a case. Now, I support the police as a rule, but accountability is essential. A friend of mine used to work in another state as an internal affairs investigator for LEOs, and you would be shocked at the criminal conduct of some police officers. In fact, he gave me instructions about what to do if stopped by a police officer because even he didn’t trust them due to his job. This case, and others like it, should be investigated to make sure proper protocols were followed and if they were not, the officers should be held responsible. Ducking and dodging looks suspicious. The family should have closure.

Recent posts

Recent comments

Pierce Blitch III on Augusta barber tradition continues
Tedd Antonacci on Bon Air receives failing grade
Catherine McKnight on Bon Air receives failing grade
Carolyn Vickers on Pay going up for city employees
Clarence Powell on Pay going up for city employees
Thomas Yarbrough on Pay going up for city employees
Leza Witherington on Pay going up for city employees
J. Paul Griffin on Pay going up for city employees
Catherine McKnight on Sias found guilty of federal crimes
Dianne Lackey on Dine and Dish: Calvert’s
Jimmy Clark on Faith: Swift retribution
Penny Danner on Faith: Swift retribution
Kevin de l’Aigle on Arrest made in transgender slaying
Barry Paschal on Dine and Dish: Calvert’s
THOMAS SUMNER on Dine and Dish: Calvert’s
Christine Slendak on Gold Cross increase request fails
Thomas Yarbrough on Murder suspect arrested
Thomas Yarbrough on Columbia County inmate dies
Thomas Yarbrough on Operation Grace leads to arrests
Thomas Yarbrough on Operation Grace leads to arrests
Phillip Williams on Operation Grace leads to arrests
Tedd Antonacci on Opinion: Letter to the editor
NancyBlumenthal on “Augusta” By David Sirull
Kelly Wagner on Another homicide in Augusta
Juliann McCraney on Column: Faith: Ups and downs
Robert Schloesser on Saga with Gold Cross EMS continues
Thomas Yarbrough on Garnett Johnson: In his own words
Tedd Antonacci on OPINION: Letter to the editor
Charmain Brackett on Reoccurring Members
Charmain Brackett on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Russell Smeak on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Trudy Edwards on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Gay Wright on Reoccurring Members
Russell Smeak on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Charmain Brackett on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Charmain Brackett on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Russell Smeak on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Thomas Plowden on Short Getaways: Edisto Beach
Charmain Brackett on Man struck by train Thursday
Thomas Yarbrough on Man struck by train Thursday
Tedd Antonacci on Man struck by train Thursday
Dennis Perry on FAITH: Our Only Hope
Douglas Hastings on