Deputy in stun-gun case has drawn scrutiny before

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 1:29 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Four Richmond County deputies are on leave after a man died after several days in a coma following an encounter with them. And this isn’t the first recent high-profile case involving one of the deputies.

The Richmond County Coroner’s Office said it’s investigating the death of Jermaine Jones, 24, of the 600 block Fairhope Street, who was shocked after he ran during a traffic stop.

Jones was pronounced dead at 2:08 p.m. Monday at Augusta University Medical Center, where he’d been for a week after suffering severe brain injuries, apparently in the encounter with deputies at Highland Avenue and Clifton Street on Oct. 11.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office says four officers involved in the incident — Investigator Richard Russell, Deputy Leslie Gaiter, Deputy Parker Leathers, Deputy Christopher Brown — were placed on paid administrative leave Friday.

The sheriff’s agency says Russell shocked Jones after he ran from the scene of a traffic stop. It also says there was a “brief struggle” when Jones resisted officers.

Later, deputies said he had suffered a medical emergency, and he was taken to the hospital, where he was on life support until he was declared dead Monday.

Gaiter was involved in another high-profile case recently — one that gained attention after a video of it went viral on social media.

The video surfaced in early Augusta, showing moments of a dispute between two men and deputies — wrestling, throwing punches, and even rushing toward the woman recording the video. At one point, the woman falls to the ground. Deputies report she tripped. The woman says her arm was broken as a result.

In that incident, deputies approached what they called a suspicious vehicle in the Red Roof Inn parking lot. They soon smelled marijuana.

“I don’t got nothing, bro! I don’t got nothing, bro!” said Jaquez Paschal.

That led to a struggle between three deputies and the suspect.

Gaiter was one of those deputies.

When the woman recording the video got a little closer to the scuffle, a deputy said: “Back up! Back up!”

Next the deputy rushed toward her and she fells. According to the report she tripped over a parking stop.

An internal investigation was launched, and we’re asking how that turned out.

But Freddie Sanders, a former police chief and attorney, told News 12 he believed the deputies did their job correctly.

“You have to keep people back when those things are going on because you don’t know what they’re gonna do,” he said.


Jones’ case was a lot different.

The incident report explains the men were initially pulled over for a tinted case covering the license plate.

Then several more investigators showed up and asked the driver, Jones’ uncle, for consent to search the vehicle. Another deputy then arrived with a K9. The dog smelled narcotics in the vehicle.

The three occupants of the vehicle — Jones, his father and his uncle — were removed and put on the curb.

The report says while one investigator was searching the area where Jones was sitting, Jones stood up and told his father he was going to run.

The investigator found a handgun and crack pipe under the rear passenger seat and then Jones took off running, according to deputies.

Jermaine M. Jones Jr. died a week after an encounter with deputies ended up with him being...
Jermaine M. Jones Jr. died a week after an encounter with deputies ended up with him being tased and ultimately in a hospital(WRDW)

An investigator used his stun gun, hitting the back of Jones, which caused him to fall on the ground. After a brief struggle, Jones was taken to custody, according to deputies.

Later, deputies said he had suffered a medical emergency, and he was taken to the hospital, where he was on life support.

His family is asking why was he not given medical attention sooner.

His medical records show he suffered a significant brain hemorrhage in multiple parts of his brain, along with bruising in his brain, and that part of his brain was swollen.

He was then put in a medically induced coma until his family was ready to say goodbye.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the use of force.

An autopsy of Jones is scheduled at the GBI lab.


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