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Prisoner Education Guide

$375,000 Settlement for Ohio Woman Pepper Sprayed in Jail's Restraint Chair

by Matt Clarke

In August 2017, a lawsuit brought by a woman who was pepper sprayed-­despite being held immobile in a restraint chair at the Montgomery County Jail in Dayton, Ohio--was settled for $375,000.

Amber Swink was 24-years old and 5'2" tall when police received a domestic disturbance call to a residence where she and her boyfriend were present. Swink was intoxicated and refused to step out when asked by police. There ensued a scuffle in which Swink was taken to the ground and handcuffed, and a police officer's glasses were broken.

Swink was booked into the Montgomery County jail. She screamed and banged on the glass of the holding cell. Jail Captain Judith L. Sealy told her to stop causing a disturbance or pepper spray would be used on her.

Swink continued being belligerent, so Sealy introduced pepper spray into her cell. She ceased causing a disturbance, but was nonetheless taken to a restraint chair and strapped pursuant to Sealy's orders.

After an hour and a half of forced immobility in the restraint chair, Swink began yelling. Sealy then went to Swink's cell and sprayed her face and body with a can of pepper spray, causing Swink to lose consciousness.

A medic summoned to the cell encountered an unconscious, fully restrained Swink. He used various stimulito return her to consciousness, then left her fully restrained in the chair.

With the assistance of Dayton attorney Douglas D. Brannon, Swink filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the board of county commissioners, the sheriff, Sealy, and other jail personnel, alleging excessive use of force. According to court documents, Swink suffered disfiguring, debilitating, permanent injuries from the pepper spraying that required her to seek various medical therapies and caused psychological trauma.

A video recording of the pepper spraying was released by Swink's attorneys. Sealy was placed on administrative leave and the case presented to the grand jury, but no indictment was returned. The county then settled the case for $375,000.

See: Swink v. Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, U.S.D.C. - S.D. Ohio, Case No. 3:16-cv-00392.

Additional source: nbc4i.com

Related legal case

Swink v. Montgomery County Board of Commissioners


 

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