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Ohio: $75,000 Settlement Reached after 60-Year-Old Woman Body Slammed by Jail Guard

by Christopher Zoukis

A federal lawsuit filed by an elderly woman who suffered injuries after being slammed to the floor by a jail guard has ended in a settlement, and the guard disciplined.

Marsha Pate-Strickland was detained in Ohio’s Montgomery County jail on September 8, 2015 when she was involved in an altercation with guard David E. Stemp. During breakfast, Pate-Strickland, who was being held on misdemeanor assault charges that were later dropped, asked Stemp if she could have milk instead of juice with her meal. According to Montgomery County Sheriff’s records, Stemp told Pate-Strickland no and ordered her to go to her cell. She allegedly refused to comply.

Video obtained by the Dayton Daily News showed what happened next. Stemp approached Pate-Strickland and reached for her left arm. When she pulled away, Stemp grabbed her arm, spun her around and body slammed the 60-year-old woman to the floor.

According to an internal probe uncovered by the Daily News, Stemp told investigators that “he needed to protect himself immediately and thought [that] taking the time to call for assistance would jeopardize his safety.”

Pate-Strickland sought medical attention immediately after the assault and was given an ice pack. Following two days of excruciating pain, and repeated requests for medical care, she was released from jail. She went directly to a hospital where she was diagnosed with a comminuted right humeral head/neck fracture.

Assisted by attorney Douglas Brannon, Pate-Strickland filed suit against the county, the sheriff, Stemp and a jail nurse, Greg Mills. She claimed assault and battery, civil rights violations, excessive use of force, failure to supervise and deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. According to the Daily News, the parties settled the case for $75,000 in October 2017. See: Pate-Strickland v. Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, U.S.D.C. (S.D. Ohio), Case No. 3:17-cv-00310-TMR.

Brannon said Pate-Strickland was “doing fine.”

“The case has been settled. There’s a signed agreement,” said Brannon. “The matter was settled amicably and Ms. Pate-Strickland is going to be moving forward with her life and is glad to have this matter resolved.”

Stemp received a letter of caution for failing to alert his supervisors to an escalating situation with a detainee. “Your failure to notify a supervisor subsequently resulted in a use of force that could have been avoided,” Sgt. Thomas Feehan wrote in the letter. Stemp resigned in May 2016 and was hired as a senior patrol officer in the village of Camden, Ohio.

In a September 22, 2017 article, Camden Police Chief Matt Spurlock told the Daily News that he “need[s] more men like David Stemp.”



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Related legal case

Pate-Strickland v. Montgomery County Board of Commissioners