by Matthew Clarke
On September 30, 2022, a lawsuit was dismissed against Pennsylvania’s Dauphin County, after a former pretrial detainee at the county lockup reached a $142,500 settlement on claims that a jail guard knocked her unconscious and smashed her jaw while she was handcuffed.
Barbara Barngetuny, then 26, was detained at the Dauphin County Prison on November 10, 2017, when jail guard Joshua Marshall allegedly slammed her to the floor, breaking her jaw and two teeth and cutting her chin. When she then passed out – for 10 minutes – a second, unidentified guard pepper sprayed her twice as she lay unmoving on the floor, she said.
Afterward, Barngetuny said she was disciplined for being combative with placement in solitary confinement. There she was denied visits from her mother. She was also allegedly ridiculed by guards, who laughed at her when she cried. One said she cried worse than his two-year-old niece, Barngetuny recalled.
Her broken jaw required surgery, and her two broken teeth required repair. She also had to heal the cuts on her chin. In addition to those injuries, she claimed to suffer migraine headaches, PTSD, severe emotional distress and insomnia as a result of the assault.
After she sent a letter to the Harrisburg Patriot-News in December 2017, laying out her version of events, the county initially denied Barngetunty was assaulted. Though she noted that the incident was allegedly captured by surveillance cameras, the county insisted any injuries she suffered were self-inflicted.
With the aid of Harrisburg attorney Roy L. Galloway III, she then filed suit in federal court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in November 2019, accusing the guards and former prison Warden Dominick DeRose of first causing her injuries with excessive force and then attempting a cover-up, both part of an alleged widespread custom of sweeping guard misdeeds under the rug with false reports and bogus disciplinary charges.
The parties then proceeded to reach their settlement agreement, which included fees and costs for her attorney. See: Barngetuny v. Cty. Of Dauphin, USDC (M.D.Pa.), Case No. 4:19-cv-01927.
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