Officer cleared for alleged beating of homeless vet, records show

Video released by sheriff’s office shows sequence of events after Joseph Guglielmo is brought to jail

A Montgomery County corrections officer accused in lawsuit of beating a jail inmate so severely it put him in a months-long coma and left him wheelchair bound was cleared of any wrongdoing in an internal review months after the incident, records obtained by the I-Team show.

Joseph Guglielmo sued the sheriff’s office this month claiming “defendants used excessive force on him on Jan. 15, 2015. Guglielmo, the lawsuit says, was “neither a risk to himself nor officers,” yet the officers failed to protect him.

The lawsuit says Guglielmo was a veteran suffering from PTSD who was staying at the homeless shelter before he was arrested on charges of assault and resisting arrest.

RELATED: Homeless veteran beaten into coma in jail, lawsuit alleges

The sheriff’s office conducted an internal review of the incident in April 2015. The I-Team obtained the investigation using Ohio public records law.

After speaking with the officers and medical staff involved, the investigator concluded that Sgt. Matthew Snyder used appropriate force on Guglielmo, who reportedly grabbed and pulled Snyder’s arm.

“Sergeant Snyder feared he would fall, so he pulled back, freed one arm and delivered a forearm strike to the right side of Mr. Guglielmo’s head causing his head to strike the wall,” says the internal investigation.

The report says Guglielmo failed to follow repeated orders to let go of Snyder, who then hit him twice more in the head and once in the stomach.

Guglielmo entered the jail with head wounds after allegedly resisting arrest and fighting with Dayton police when he was arrested. He arrived at the jail with his head bandaged after being treated at Grandview Hospital, the report says.

“When he was in our facility, he was banging his head on the glass door for a good period of time,” Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said in an interview Wednesday. “That was why we had to enter the cell to get him under control. Because we’re also responsible for their safety while they’re here and we have to keep them from hurting themselves. So as the officers, the sergeant went in to cease, eliminate that behavior, he attacks the sergeant. The sergeant did use some force on him and defended himself. So that’s why he’s cleared of any wrongdoing.”

Video obtained by the I-Team does not show the altercation in the jail. It shows six corrections officers — one apparently carrying pepper spray — enter his cell after Guglielmo pounded on the glass with his fists over a prolonged period. The camera's view of what happened inside the cell is blocked by officers' bodies.

At 11:38 p.m. officers left the cell. An officer returned about 10 minutes later to check on Guglielmo. At that point Guglielmo apologized and requested a medic, the guard who checked on him told investigators. A nurse arrives and Guglielmo is helped to a bench outside the cell, where he sits for several minutes, the video shows.

As officers escort him to another cell for observation, Guglielmo appears to be having a hard time maintaining his balance. At 12:06 a.m. Snyder reported that Guglielmo’s feet were twitching even though he appeared to be asleep. Several medics and other officers arrive and Guglielmo is moved onto a stretcher before being transported to Miami Valley Hospital.

The investigative report says officers found Guglielmo unresponsive and a “small puddle of blood was located under Mr. Guglielmo’s face” when the medics were called.

“It was determined immediately that inmate needed to be sent out,” a jail nurse wrote.

Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said his office stands by the internal investigation.

“Unfortunately, lawsuits are one-sided, one side of the story and unfortunately, we can’t comment too much on it because it is a current lawsuit,” he said. “But I will tell you this: We did an internal investigation on that situation. Our officers were cleared of any wrongdoing. My officers have the right to defend themselves and I’ll back them 100 percent.”

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