Sergeant named in jail assault lawsuit sought demotion

A Montgomery County Sheriff's Office sergeant accused in a federal lawsuit of beating a homeless veteran at the jail requested a demotion a couple weeks after the incident, records obtained by the I-Team show.

Sgt. Matthew Snyder volunteered for a demotion and nearly a $5 per hour pay cut in early February 2015, about two weeks after Joseph Guglielmo was taken to Miami Valley Hospital, notes the internal investigation of his use of force.

Guglielmo's lawsuit against the county said he lapsed into a weeks-long coma and is now wheelchair-bound. The now 59-year-old Guglielmo filed a civil rights lawsuit against several county employees in Dayton's U.S. District Court.

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

Snyder — also a military veteran — was cleared of violating any departmental policy for his use of force against Guglielmo. The report said Snyder struck Guglielmo three times in the head and one time in the abdomen after Guglielmo allegedly grabbed the sergeant's arms.

“I would like to resign my sergeant’s commission and return to the rank of deputy sheriff at a date that meets the operational needs of the office,” Snyder wrote in a Feb. 3, 2015, letter to Sheriff Phil Plummer obtained using Ohio’s open records law.

The records do not state his motivation for the demotion.

“Snyder chose to go back to deputy due to personal reasons,” Plummer said in an interview Friday. “That was solely his decision.”

The voluntary demotion is mentioned only as a “note” on the first page of the internal investigation of the Guglielmo incident, which was completed by Det. Bryan Cavinder on April 22.

RELATED: Officer cleared for alleged beating of homeless vet, records show

Personnel records show Snyder’s hourly pay dropped from $36.03 to $31.06 per hour. Snyder had been promoted to sergeant from deputy in April 2011.

Jennifer Branch, one of Guglielmo’s attorneys, said she was aware of Snyder’s demotion but had not uncovered the reason for it. “Although, in my experience,” Branch said, “I have only seen an officer take a demotion as a way to avoid receiving discipline.”

Plummer said he wouldn’t allow someone to avoid discipline with a self-demotion, and if someone misbehaves they are always “held accountable.”

‘We defend ourselves’

Snyder, who has worked for the sheriff’s office since 1997, reported six other uses of force after he returned to road duty from February 2015 through July 11, 2016. They include using pepper spray, striking combative suspects with a flashlight or taking them down to the ground. None of those resulted in a lawsuit against the department.

The use of force incidents involving Snyder were among 396 such incidents involving corrections officers or road deputies for the sheriff's office during this time period, according to an analysis by the the I-Team of use of force statistics.

Dayton police brought Guglielmo to the jail from Grandview Hospital, where he was treated for head wounds after fighting with officers when they responded to his allegedly disorderly conduct at the Gateway Shelter for Men, jail records say. Plummer said Guglielmo was combative when Synder and other officers went into his cell in response to him yelling and banging his head on the cell door.

“We’re not there to get beat on by inmates and suspects,” Plummer said earlier this week. “We defend ourselves when we have to, and that’s what we tell our people. You know, we don’t start fights but you will take care of yourself, and we’ll support you the whole time.”

Discipline, commendations

Snyder’s personnel file includes both commendations and discipline, including an unexplained five-day suspension in 2002 only explained as “violating sheriff’s office policy.”

Snyder’s recent performance reviews show he’s had commendations from a local judge, the public and law enforcement, but also has had issues with “compliance with rules and regulations.”

In 2015, Snyder — whose personnel file notes he was in military intelligence in the U.S. Army — was disciplined for making an offensive and inappropriate comment.

Snyder had letters of caution in 2013 for abuse of position for wearing his uniform to Vandalia Municipal Court to discuss the traffic violation of a family member, and for parking a cruiser in a handicapped parking space.

In 2012, Snyder was given a letter of reprimand when some of his SWAT equipment was stolen from his personal vehicle while off duty.

Snyder had letters of reprimand in 2011 for damage to vehicles in April and July and one-day suspension for being at fault in a December motor vehicle accident. In that same month, Snyder was named Deputy of the Month for attention to detail in investigating car-jacking and abduction.

Snyder had commendations in 2010 for assisting an elderly citizen and in 2009 for apprehending juvenile breaking and entering and and robbery suspects. He also had a letter of recognition for apprehending subjects in a drug transaction. Snyder was named Deputy of the Month in October 2009 for apprehending an aggravated robbery suspect

In 2008, Snyder was commended for successful drug investigations in January, February and March. He also was recognized in 2006 for his role in apprehending suspects in a drug organization and for a traffic stop of a stolen vehicles.

I-TEAM INVESTIGATIONS: Jail faces multiple probes, lawsuits

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