AUGUSTA-RICHMOND COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — District Attorney Jared Williams of the Augusta Judicial Circuit announced Friday that seven Richmond County Sheriff’s Office deputies have been cleared from wrongdoing in the tasing death of Jermaine Jones, Jr.
According to DA Williams, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Division of Forensic Sciences did an initial investigation and autopsy. During a subsequent review, the DA contracted a private medical examiner “to ensure the proper medical conclusion had been reached, and to address concerns from Mr. Jones’ family about the source and nature of the injuries.”
“We requested the independent doctor analyze the facts of the case, review the autopsy findings, and render a separate opinion…As a result of the investigation and expert medical opinions, the officers involved are cleared of criminal liability in the arrest and subsequent death of Jermaine Jones, Jr.”
The deputies cleared are Richard Russell, Parker Leathers, Christopher Brown, Aaron Phillips, Leslie Gaiter, John Tarpley, and Lora Hucko.
According to an incident report, Deputy Brown pulled over Jones, his father, and his uncle due to an issue with the tags on the car they were driving in. Brown asked Jones’ uncle, Willie Baker, who was driving the car if he could search the vehicle. Baker consented, and a canine partner performed an “open-air search and alerted to the odor of narcotics in the vehicle.” All three men then exited the car.
Deputy Brown discovered a gun and “glass crack pipe under the passenger seat.” Jones, who was on parole, then tried to run away. The report details that “Inv. Russell then deployed his taser, striking Jones in the back and causing him to fall on the ground. After a brief struggle Jones was taken into custody.”
While transporting Jones to the Charles B. Webster Detention Center, deputies say he experienced a “medical emergency.” They rerouted and took him to the hospital.
Medical documents provided to NewsChannel 6 by Jones’ family reveal he suffered from bruises to the brain and significant bleeding inside the brain. A doctor told Jones’ family those injuries were not consistent with being tased.
“The only marks he had were in his head,” Keyana Gaines, Jones’ mother, said.
Jones was placed in a medically induced coma and declared brain-dead the next day. He was pronounced dead on October 18, 2021.
Jones’ family has called for the deputies involved in his arrest to be held accountable. The deputies were placed on administrative leave but allowed to return to duty.