DeKalb County commissioners voted Tuesday to pay $75,000 to a gang member convicted of the murder of two young women after he said a jailer broke his jaw and gave him a concussion.
The settlement was recommended by county attorneys to eliminate the risk of going to trial with Demetre Mason, 24, and potentially ending up paying more, documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show. The jail workers named in the suit have denied Mason’s version of events in court filings, but Sheriff Jeffrey Mann said both were suspended after the incident.
Mason, of course, is unlikely to get much pleasure from the money, as he is in Hancock State Prison, serving life without parole for his part in the 2014 deaths of Shaniqua Camacho, 21, and Sonia Williams, 20. Authorities have said a reputed 9 Trey Bloods gang boss ordered Mason and several others to do the shooting outside Lithonia after Williams called the leader an insulting name.
Mason’s attorney, Mark Begnaud, knows the idea of a convicted killer getting $75,000 from the government could be difficult for some to accept. But he added that despite the severity of his crimes, Mason still has rights.
“That doesn’t authorize the beating,” he told The AJC, adding that the money will go to Mason’s family, who may put it toward the cost of appealing his convictions. “I think the settlement sends a message.”
Mason was awaiting trial on murder charges when jailer Cesary Wilborn went into his cell on July 8, 2016. Wilborn, allegedly angry because he believed the inmate had thrown liquid on him and been rude, punched Mason in the face and head, according to the suit.
The suit was also against Sgt. Tonjai Roberts, who was accused of failing to move swiftly enough to seek medical treatment for Mason. Roberts allegedly told Mason to “man up and sleep it off.”
Both deputies are still employed by DeKalb, but “Appropriate disciplinary actions were taken at the time of the incident in 2016,” the sheriff said.
Staff writer Tia Mitchell contributed reporting.
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