Montgomery County settling jail lawsuit brought by 60-year-old woman

Montgomery County settling jail lawsuit brought by 60-year-old woman

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Marsha Pate-Strickland

Montgomery County officials have reached terms for a settlement with a 60-year-old woman who was taken down to the floor in the county jail after asking a corrections officer for milk instead of juice while eating breakfast in the women’s waiting area.

Marsha Pate-Strickland reached a financial settlement with the county, her attorney and county officials confirmed. County officials haven’t revealed the amount agreed to be paid.

Pate-Strickland’s attorney, Douglas Brannon, said he’s bound by a confidentiality agreement not to discuss the exact terms reached with Montgomery County Commissioners and Sheriff Phil Plummer.

“The case has been settled. There’s a signed agreement,” Brannon said. “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.”

A Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman confirmed that terms have been reached and eventually will be filed in federal court.

“A settlement, approved by Sheriff Plummer, between him, Montgomery County, and the plaintiffs has been reached,” said Greg Flannagan. “However, the necessary documents have not been signed by the Sheriff or the plaintiff or filed with the court.”

SPECIAL REPORT: Justice in the Jailhouse

This news organization has requested the document signed during mediation that includes the monetary agreement.

Surveillance video showed the altercation Sept. 8, 2015 between Pate-Strickland and corrections officer David Stemp after the inmate asked for milk instead of juice.

The suit claimed Stemp ordered Pate-Strickland to stand up, then was forcefully grabbed and “violently swung” around before her right shoulder and arm were slammed to the floor.

Pate-Strickland was booked in on a misdemeanor assault accusation brought by another woman in her building that was dropped, according to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.

The lawsuit claimed that the actions by Stemp were “brutal and excessive force” and “cruel and unusual.”

Brannon said Pate-Strickland was “doing fine” and made a “good recovery from her non-displaced fracture. It healed.”

Personnel records obtained by this news organization show Stemp was given a letter of caution for failing to notify supervisors of an escalating situation.

Stemp resigned May 31, 2016, to take a full-time job with the village of Camden. Village Chief Matt Spurlock said in September that Stemp has been promoted to the department’s senior patrol officer and is in charge of the property room.

Spurlock said Stemp, who started as part-time in late 2014, always has showed professionalism.

Brannon also represented Amber Swink, who was paid $375,000 after being strapped in a seven-point harness and pepper-sprayed by then-Sgt. Judith Sealey, according to Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck.

Montgomery County Jail lawsuit settlements

Two lawsuits of at least 10 pending cases against Montgomery County Jail staff have been settled out of court. Several more are pending, according to attorneys who have brought other suits.

Amber Swink: $375,000

Marsha Pate-Strickland: Undisclosed

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