A Ohio sheriff’s department once again has been exposed on video pepper spraying a detainee strapped in a restraint chair, a disturbing incident that took place a month after an almost identical video surfaced that was written off as an “isolated” incident by the sheriff who runs the jail.
The practice does not seem very isolated considering the victim in the latest attack expressed fear about getting strapped to the chair before he even saw the chair.
“I’m not going in the chair, am I?” asks Charles Wade as soon as he soon as he steps into the Montgomery County Jail after being arrested on drunk driving charges on October 17, 2016.
Sure enough, deputies announce that they will “chair him,” which means strapping him into a full-body 7-point restraint chair, described as providing “the most secure way to restrain violent or combative prisoners while ensuring officer safety.”
“I am not resisting,” Wade says in the video. “I’m not doing anything to fight you guys. If you cause any pain, my lawyer will know about it.”
He also repeatedly pleads that “I can’t breathe” as they pepper spray him multiple times.
The video was obtained by a local journalist and activist named David Esrati who posted it on his website, showing Wade being processed at Montgomery County Jail on drunk driving charges.
Esrati, a longtime critic of Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, described the video as follows:
Charles Alexander Wade is no choir boy. He’s a 37 year old black man who has had his share of run ins with the law. No stranger to the Montgomery County jail, he’s asking if he’s going to be “chaired” as the deputies are removing him from the back of the State Highway Patrol cruiser, where he is lying face down across the backseat, with his hands cuffed behind his back.
The deputies even brought a hand held video camera out to record the entire booking process, in addition to the jails security video system. You will see them passing the camera around while they proceed to mis-manage their internment of Wade at 4:40 am on October 17, 2016. This was a month after the footage of Swink being pepper sprayed in restraints had been made public. If anything, you’d think everyone would be extra careful before using pepper spray on a restrained inmate, but that would only apply to competent, intelligent employees, which seem to be in the minority in Plummer’s keystone kops klink.
There is no doubt Wade knew his rights and knew what was possible in the jail.
The only question now is who is going to stop this kind of sadistic criminal abuse of prisoners under Sheriff Phil Plummer?
The FBI? The Justice Department? Our County Prosecutor?
On Tuesday, Wade filed a lawsuit against the sheriff and several deputies, which you can read here.
The Washington Post picked up the story on Wednesday, reporting the following:
As Wade is strapped into the chair he complains about his hands — which are handcuffed behind his back — being in pain. Off-camera, a jail official identified in the lawsuit as Sgt. John W. Eversole, tells Wade that his hands will be released and strapped into the arms of the chair momentarily.
“Look what you do to us n—–,” Wade replies. “Do you white people feel good doing this to us n—–? Yeah, you do, don’t you?”
At this point, video shows that both of Wade’s legs and his abdomen are secured in the restraint chair, making it impossible for him to stand or move forward from his waist down.
But as officers begin to unlock Wade’s handcuffs, he starts to struggle and yell while officers press down on his back and neck. The lawsuit says that Wade began to struggle because his handcuffs were manipulated, causing “severe pain and injury.
While four officers wrestle Wade’s neck to his knees, a fifth pepper sprays the man inches from his face while a female officer records video.
In November 2015, Montgomery County Sheriff Sergeant Judith Sealey pepper sprayed a woman named Amber Swink while she was restrained in the 7-point restraint chair, allegedly without provocation.
Sealey and other deputies then tried to delete the video, but the video was leaked to Swink’s attorney where it surfaced in September 2016, a month before the Wade pepper spraying incident.
Sealey has since been promoted to captain.
Swink, who is also suing the Sherriff’s office, told The Post last year that she suffered from chronic breathing problems as a result of her exposure to pepper spray.
Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer had called Swink’s treatment “an isolated incident” when video of the incident emerged in September last year, but this latest incident proves police abuse in Montgomery is protocol, Douglas Brannon, Swink’s attorney believes.
“I think it happened again because there was no discipline handed out to officers involved in abusing Amber Swink,” Brannon told The Post. “I think this type of treatment is becoming something that happens with impunity within the Montgomery County jail. Certainly, there were four large corrections officers — in addition to a sergeant — who were with Charles Wade and who had sufficient control over him and the situation without resorting to excess uses of force, including the pepper spray.”
The lawsuit filed by Wade’s attorney in the U.S. District Court in Ohio on Tuesday, said the sheriff department’s treatment “amounted to torture” and “violated his rights to be secure from cruel and unusual punishment.”
Below is the video edited by Ersati, which includes footage from a handheld camera as well as surveillance camera. And here is the unedited video from the night of the Wade pepper spraying.
PINAC Publisher Carlos Miller contributed to this report.