A growing number of lawsuits alleging mistreatment of inmates in Dayton, OH, jails have begun piling up The multiple claims of abuse range from racial profiling to due medical care being denied. Several individuals have said they were physically assaulted by officers on duty, while one woman in nearby Warren County said she had been raped.
Footage from one Montgomery County lock-up shows police using pepper spray on a securely restrained but unruly man. That jail – number 330 – has eight separate lawsuits pending against it. The pepper spray incident, reported by a local CBS affiliate, was not the first of its kind in the area. Amber Swink had brought the same jail to court in 2016, with her story built around a similar premise. She had been drinking, was acting belligerently towards officers, and was restrained in a custom-made control chair before being pepper-sprayed at close range. That incident was also caught on tape.
Amber Swink being pepper-sprayed while restrained.
The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners took the step of sending a letter to the United States Department of Justice to investigate civil rights infractions which may have been committed at the facility.
The response from ranking officers and the local sheriff’s office was dismissive.
Sheriff Phil Plummer, a member of the jail staff and management, said the request was “aggressive” and “politically charged.”
“We believe (he) was fighting with the officers,” Plummer said in a statement to whio.com. “And if you would just comply, we wouldn’t have that situation. OK? My officers have to go home to their families and their loved ones. We don’t pay them enough to fight people like that in jail.”
Taking Plummer’s words together with the video raises the question of how a restrained man could pose any significant threat to a group of armed and unhindered police officers. Even if the subject was being unruly, the jail facility and its staff have an obligation to keep him safe and free from harm. They didn’t live up to their responsibility with either inmate.
Neither, for that matter, did they fulfill their obligation to protect with homeless veteran Joseph Guglielmo. Arrested after getting into an argument with an employee at a shelter, Guglielmo claims to have been beaten by multiple corrections officers before being thrown against a concrete wall. He was taken to a hospital by two individuals who were later named as defendants.
Guglielmo’s attorney, Jennifer Branch, said that the jail had a responsibility to not resort to violence when dealing with mentally ill inmates who act belligerently but are not a physical threat. Her client’s claims substantiate detractors of Phil Plummer and the Montgomery County Jail system who say the sheriff’s department is complicit in the regular overuse of force.