Nearly seven weeks after a Montgomery County grand jury declined felony assault charges against Sheriff’s Office Capt. Judith Sealey for pepper spraying a restrained female jail inmate, Dayton police still plan to present the case to Dayton city prosecutors for consideration of misdemeanor charges.
Sealey, then a sergeant, pepper-sprayed inmate Amber Swink while Swink was strapped into a restraint chair on Nov. 15, 2015. The incident was captured on jailhouse video.
In addition to potential misdemeanor charges, Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer has said Sealey still could face administrative action. Internal reviews are usually done after criminal cases have been closed. A federal investigation into the incident is ongoing.
“I would like to know what the holdup is,” said Douglas Brannon, Swink’s attorney in a civil lawsuit against the county. “It’s not like (Dayton police and prosecutors) don’t have a video of the assault.”
In October 2016, Plummer asked Dayton police to investigate the incident for potential criminal charges. He placed Sealey on administrative leave that same month. She returned to work May 3 after the grand jury decision.
Dayton City Prosecutor Stephanie Cook said her department is waiting for the police department to present the case for consideration.
“Since they’re the ones who did the investigation, they’re the ones who would be presenting it to our office,” Cook said.
Dayton police spokeswoman Cara Zinski-Neace said: “We do plan on presenting to our city prosecutor’s office at some point. It’s still in the investigation stage before we do that.”
Zinski-Neace said because it’s an open case, evidence requested by this news organization would be denied.
Cook said the most likely charge Sealey could face in Dayton Municipal Court, if any, would be misdemeanor assault.
A message seeking comment from Sealey’s criminal defense attorney was not immediately returned.
Swink filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the county after her attorney obtained video of the incident.
SPECIAL PROJECT: Lawsuits, accusations plague region’s county jails
Brannon has said Swink became unconscious after being pepper sprayed — the second time that force had been used against her at the jail Nov. 15, 2015, according to jail records.
Plummer, Sealey and other defendants in the federal civil case sought to delay discovery in the lawsuit until investigations by Dayton police and the U.S. Dept. of Justice were complete.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Michael Newman ruled that discovery from everyone else but Sealey should move forward and stayed a deposition of Sealey until late August.
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