Ohio Sheriff Sued after Video She tried to Destroy Surfaces

Joshua Brown

An Ohio sheriff’s sergeant thought it was all fun and games.

When she and fellow deputies deleted video footage that showed her pepper spraying a women strapped down in a restraint chair.

But now the joke is on her because the video still exists, resulting in a lawsuit against Montgomery County Sheriff Sergeant Judith Sealey and her cohorts.

The video is below and the lawsuit can be read here, which goes into detail about how they conspired to delete the footage, but does not explain how the law firm obtained the footage.

Apparently, the video was leaked to attorney Douglas Brannon, who is representing the victim, because Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer accused the attorney of possessing “stolen property.”

It all started November 15, 2015 when the victim, Amber Swink, 25, was arrested after deputies responded to a call of domestic violence at her home. Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies said she was drunk and belligerent.

Once at the Montgomery County Jail, sheriff’s deputies placed Swink in a restraint chair with her legs and arms strapped down, which was when she was peppered sprayed in the face by then-Sergeant Judith Sealey, who is now a captain.

According to the lawsuit:

It was ultimately determined by the Defendants that the videotape of Defendant Sealey spraying Plaintiff Amber Swink with OC spray while she was restrained in the restraint chair should be intentionally destroyed, along with other electronic data and reports to prevent probable civil litigation, criminal investigation and protect a black female being promoted to the command staff from discipline and/or termination.Under orders and/or with the consent of Defendant Plummer, Defendant Crosby, Defendant Sealey and/or another member of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office all videotape, electronic and other evidence of Defendant Sealey spraying Plaintiff Amber Swink with OC spray while in the restraint chair was destroyed.

Because the video contained evidence of a use of force incident, the lawsuit states that the jail was required to maintain possession of it for seven years.

But when attorney Brannon made a public records request for it, he was told there was an “automatic data overwrite” of video every seven days, so it no longer existed.

The lawsuit also states that the department protected and promoted Sealey because she was black and the sheriff was trying to prove the department was not racist after firing two deputies earlier this year for sending racist texts.

Sealey is on paid administrative leave. She was a Sergeant at the time of the incident, but has since been promoted to Captain.

Sheriff Phil Plummer even said the pepper spraying violated department policy. Evidently, Sealey was suppose to complete a use of force form upon her use of the pepper spray but that form was never filled out. Sheriff Plummer also said the video footage was stolen.

According to the Dayton Daily News:

“This looks orchestrated from within the inside. It’s disturbing because, you know, we have faith in our employees. Systems are set up that employees have access to all these records to do their jobs. So now, somebody thinks something wasn’t handled properly. They’re going to steal records. This is a theft. This is obstructing official business. This is tampering with evidence,” said Sheriff Plummer.

The proper protocol entails the sergeant downloading the video onto a CD, completing all the reports, and sending it all over to the captain. Once the captain looks at the given information, the determination will be made to send it to the major and so on to the chief.

But, the information never even made it to the captain.

As for Swink, she said she will never get over the incident.

“It felt like somebody just crushed up fresh peppers and made me use them as face cream. I remember my mouth was filling with a thick slobber, like foaming up — and that was also blocking my airway, I thought I might die.”



Citizen Journalism