A ninth lawsuit has been filed by a former inmate alleging mistreatment by Montgomery County Jail personnel, this one involving a now-fired corrections officer that the sheriff’s office tried to prosecute.
Former inmate Daryl Wallace, 44, filed a lawsuit this week against former corrections officer Jerrid Campbell, Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer and the county’s board of commissioners in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.
Wallace’s attorneys alleged that Campbell “viciously beat” Wallace with impunity. The Sept. 28, 2015, altercation was captured on surveillance video.
The civil rights, excessive force lawsuit claimed that Wallace complained to Campbell that his cell’s hot water wasn’t working and Campbell refused to call maintenance.
Wallace called Campbell a name, the lawsuit said, and walked away before Campbell ordered him to stop and shoved Wallace to the ground.
“Campbell then pummeled Mr. Wallace with punch after punch while holding handcuffs and using them like brass knuckles,” Wallace’s attorney’s wrote. “(Wallace) was bleeding from his scalp.”
Wallace claims he regularly experiences migraine headaches so bad “it feels like his forehead swells, the pain paralyzes him, and he vomits.” The suit also said Wallace’s vision has worsened since the incident.
Plummer said Thursday that Campbell was fired Tuesday for “violations of numerous policies.”
According to sheriff’s office documents, those violations included: using racist slurs against Plummer and other command staff members; failing to allow an inmate access to a dentist; two violations of use of force; an inappropriate Facebook post about a co-worker, making inaccurate and untruthful statements to the Dayton Daily News; making similar statements to the Dayton Weekly News. Campbell was suspended a total of 23 days for those alleged violations.
Campbell wouldn’t comment Thursday about the lawsuit but said he was fired “for exposing the segregation in the jail and for writing a complaint against Phil Plummer plus the rest of his racist command staff for creating a racist atmosphere towards black officer (sic) and threatening (other officers) for speaking out against racism.”
Campbell’s complaints about comments by former Maj. Scott Landis led to Landis’ demotion in October. In November, Campbell was quoted in a story about allegations that female inmates are racially segregated at the jail and an analysis by this newspaper that found black female inmates were disproportionately placed in older, smaller cells.
Chief Deputy Rob Streck said Thursday that Campbell has alleged he was treated unfairly, but “those allegations have been covered numerous times in numerous investigations without any evidence or any type of proof bought forward other than just accusations.”
I-TEAM SPECIAL PROJECT: Justice at the Jailhouse
The sheriff’s office said this week the “expedited” internal review of the segregation allegations they announced in November is still ongoing.
The 156-page internal investigation of the altercation between Campbell and Wallace, obtained by this newspaper, shows the sheriff’s office referred the case to both city and county prosecutors and both declined charges.
“The situation was properly investigated, and the employee was disciplined and held accountable to the fullest extent,” Plummer said, noting that Campbell was suspended without pay for 10 days.
Wallace’s attorney, Adam Gerhardstein, said the sheriff was right to discipline Campbell, but the department should have done more to prevent the incident in the first place.
“What’s important is looking at what caused excessive force to be used, and there’s enough evidence out there that we believe there’s a pattern and practice within the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office of using excessive force in that jail,” he said.
Eight other former inmates have filed suits alleging mistreatment in the jail. None has reached trial or been settled.
Wallace’s suit mentions the pepper-spraying of Amber Swink while in a restraint chair by then Sgt. Judith Sealey, injuries to Joseph Guglielmo allegedly caused by jail personnel and the death of Robert Richardson, who died after suffering a medical emergency while in his cell.
The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages plus attorneys fees and court costs.
“Corrections officers are supposed to keep the people in their custody safe,”Adam Gerhardstein said in a statement. “There is no justification for Officer Campbell’s vicious assault on Mr. Wallace. Montgomery County has a responsibility to put an end to the use of excessive force by the corrections officers in its jail.”
The same day the Wallace lawsuit was filed, Plummer attended the first meeting of a new committee established to review jail practices and policy in light of the slew of lawsuits — which he blames in part on increased public attention.
“Another thing we need to address is the media and the frenzy they create, and they bring more ambulance chasers to sue us,” Plummer said at that meeting. “This is a vicious cycle.”