Homeless veteran beaten into coma in jail, lawsuit alleges

A homeless veteran was beaten in Montgomery County Jail so severely that he was in a coma for two months and is now cognitively disabled, wheelchair bound and lives in a nursing facility, according to a lawsuit filed in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.

Joseph Guglielmo, 59, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, Sheriff Phil Plummer and six sheriff’s office employees. It’s the latest of a handful of lawsuits alleging mistreatment in the jail, which Guglielmo’s attorneys call a “pattern” of excessive force.

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In the complaint, Guglielmo alleges that in January 2015 some corrections officers stood in the way of a surveillance camera so his beating by others wouldn’t be captured on video.

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Plummer declined to comment about allegations in the lawsuit. This news organization has made multiple public records requests related to the complaint.

“When people get booked into the Montgomery County Jail, the jailer is just supposed to keep them safe, no matter how much they’re yelling, or how disoriented they may be because of mental illness, the officers should not react with violence,” said Jennifer Branch, one of Guglielmo’s attorneys. “Instead, they should be providing the medical care.”

The lawsuit said Guglielmo served in the Air Force as an operating room technician but suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and was residing at a homeless shelter in Dayton when he was arrested Jan. 15, 2015.

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Guglielmo was arrested for resisting arrest, obstructing official business and aggravated menacing after he became agitated when shelter employees informed him that he could not enter a restricted area.

Dayton Municipal Court records show that Guglielmo pleaded to aggravated menacing and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with 178 suspended and credited with two days served.

The complaint said Guglielmo was booked into jail and that Guglielmo banged on his cell door just before midnight when a sheriff’s office employee was trying to call roll.

Guglielmo alleges that four corrections officers beat him in his cell and that two others remained outside but did nothing to stop one employee from throwing Guglielmo (listed as 5-foot-10 and 140 pounds in Dayton police records) against a concrete wall and punching him in his head, eye area and abdomen.

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The sheriff’s office employees named as defendants are Matthew Snyder, Zachary Zink, Matthew Sears, David Cohn, Brandon Ort and Bradley Cooper.

The complaint said Snyder “beat Guglielmo repeatedly and threw him against the concrete wall” and “delivered several closed-fist strikes” to Guglielmo’s head, eye area and abdomen. It states the other employees “had the opportunity to stop the excessive force by Defendant Snyder but did not take any actions.”

After midnight on Jan. 16, 2015, Guglielmo was transported to Miami Valley Hospital, where he underwent surgery, the complaint states.

The suit said Guglielmo was given ice packs. Later, two defendants found Guglielmo unresponsive, the suit said, and a nurse could not revive him so he was taken to a hospital.

Documents allege Guglielmo “is unable to take care of himself and now resides at a nursing and rehabilitation facility.”

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