Attorney Doug Brannon, working for Charles Alexander Wade, the victim of the second pepper spraying while in restraints that has come to light in the last six months, filed suit in District Court asking for a jury trial.
The case centers around the pepper spray video that I released on February 2nd 2017 of the incident that occurred Oct. 19, 2016, just a month after Plummer called the first pepper spraying of Amber Swink in restraints an “isolated incident.”
The pepper spraying of people in restraints is unconstitutional, amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, and is totally unnecessary and unwarranted. However, Sheriff Plummer seems to be oblivious that this kind of behavior is not only wrong, but dangerous.
He seems to think it’s better to blame the County Commission and anyone but his officers in his press conference that was held last Wednesday, February 8, the day after the County Commission asked for the Department of Justice to investigate the jail for civil rights violations.
Another key part of the Wade complaint is that the plaintiff and his attorney had asked for the video and records multiple times and were denied. The video I released was the first and only copy that had been released to the public.
I am including the entire time stamped final complaint: Wade, Charles – TS Complaint with Jury Demand
Here are some key points, most of which can be seen clearly in the video I released:
17. The Plaintiff’s fear of being placed in a restraint chair at the MCJ was based upon the MCJ’s well-earned reputation for having a pattern and practice of using excessive force against its pretrial detainees. This includes but is not limited to Amber Swink in 2015 when jail officers used OC spray on her while she was fully restrained in a restraint chair.
This also includes Louis Aldini, Jr., a military officer whom officers viciously beat and tazed, and placed in a restraint chair, while he was in their custody in 2006. Jail officers also used excessive force in causing the death of Robert Andrew Richardson Sr. in 2012, whom, when ill in his cell and suffering from a medical emergency, officers allegedly pinned to the ground prone on his stomach and applied significant weight to his back to the point where he ceased breathing. Excessive force was also used against Emily Evans, who was body slammed into a concrete floor while handcuffed knocking her unconscious and causing facial fractures.
22. Once on the floor, Deputy Walters kept Plaintiff Wade pinned down by placing his right knee on the upper middle back area of Plaintiff Wade at which point Plaintiff Wade stated “I’m not resisting…..how do I not resist?”
24. Corrections Officers, including Defendant Lightner, secured Plaintiff’s two legs and abdomen into the restraint chair so that he was sitting in the seat and unable to stand, with both of his arms still handcuffed behind his back while Defendant Eversole recorded the events with a handheld camera.
25. At that point Plaintiff Wade’s upper torso and head were pushed down into his lap by Defendant Lightner and three other corrections officers where it would have been impossible for the Plaintiff to move or pose any threat to the corrections officers.
26. At that point Defendant Lightner, under the semblance of removing the Plaintiffs handcuffs manipulated the Plaintiff’s hand and wrist causing severe pain, injury and evoking a reaction from the Plaintiff which he knew was unnecessary and would lead to further escalation with the Plaintiff in the restraint chair.
27. Defendant Eversole then passes the video camera to another corrections officer and takes a full can of OC spray places it directly in the face of Plaintiff Wade and hits him directly in the eye and face at a range of approximately one inch with a long burst of OC spray while the Plaintiff is still restrained in the restraint chair, pinned forward with his head in his lap by four corrections officer including Defendant Lightner.
28. Only after Defendant Eversole has already sprayed OC spray in Plaintiffs face does he give Plaintiff any verbal commands to “stop resisting.”
29. The Plaintiff, after being sprayed directly in the face and eyes with OC spray at point blank range, is now coughing, struggling to breathe and when his left hand is removed from the handcuffs he places his left hand over his mouth as part of a cough reflex. It should also be noted that the corrections officer are also placing their hands/arms over their mouths in a similar cough reflex, even though they were not directly sprayed in the face with OC spray.
30. As Plaintiff Wade is still strapped in the chair, pinned down by four corrections officer including Defendant Lightner, coughing and struggling to breathe Defendant Eversole then administers a second generous dose of OC spray directly to Plaintiffs face and eyes for no reason other than to inflict further pain and injury to the Plaintiff.
31. The four corrections officer and Defendant Eversole then take Plaintiffs arms and strap them into the chair, after which Defendant Eversole takes his forearm and places it across Plaintiffs chest/neck further restricting his ability to breathe despite Plaintiff’s cries that he already could not breathe.
36. Both acts of OC spraying the Plaintiff while the Plaintiff was restrained and pinned down by corrections officers in the restraint chair constituted brutal and excessive force, was cruel and unusual and was not a proportionate response to Plaintiff’s actions while in the Defendants’ custody. Defendants, jointly and severally, exhibited deliberate indifference concerning the amount of force they applied on the Plaintiff.
37. Keeping Plaintiff Wade fully restrained in a restraint chair from 0446 hours until 0724 hours constituted brutal and excessive force, was cruel and unusual and was not a proportionate response to Plaintiff’s actions while in the Defendants’ custody. Defendants, jointly and severally, exhibited deliberate indifference concerning the amount of force they applied on the Plaintiff.
38. A reasonably competent police officer and/or corrections officer would not consider the use of the amount of force, under these circumstances, reasonable.
41. Shortly after the assault of Plaintiff Wade as stated herein, several staff members working in the Montgomery County jail who either witnessed the assault and excessive use of force or had heard about the wrongful conduct of Defendant Eversole and Lightner reported said wrongful conduct to Defendant Landis, who was a supervisor over Defendants Eversole and Lightner, who also had the responsibility of overseeing the operations in the MCJ.
42. Despite knowledge of the wrongful conduct of Defendants Eversole and Lightner Defendant Landis failed to order any type of an investigation into the events that are the subject of this action.
45. At all times relevant herein Defendants, under the direction and control of Defendant Plummer, failed to timely comply with the public records request for the video footage of the OC spraying of Plaintiff Wade in violation of the law and the policy of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
46. Defendants even relabeled videos in document productions to the Plaintiff’s attorneys purporting to claim that they were of Plaintiff Wade when they were not, in an effort to frustrate and prevent any claims being brought against the Defendants.
47. The wrongful conduct of Defendants not producing the video was intentional and deliberate since Plaintiff’s counsel has sued the Montgomery County Sheriff and its officers/employees in the past and has several cases pending against the Montgomery County Sheriff currently.
48. Upon receiving the public records requests and/or viewing the videotape, Defendants knew or should have known that excessive force was used against Plaintiff Wade, that Defendants Eversole and Lightner had in fact committed the crime of assault against Plaintiff Wade, that Defendant Eversole and Lightner had violated the Use of Force policy of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office and that there was a high probability that there would be litigation regarding this incident in the form of a criminal prosecution of Defendants Eversole and Lightner and/or a civil action brought by Plaintiff Wade and/or internal disciplinary actions against Defendants.
99. Through the conduct alleged above, Defendants negligently, intentionally, maliciously, recklessly, and willfully breached this duty by attacking Plaintiff with OC spray and/or destroying the videotape and other documentary evidence so as to inhibit probable litigation and as a direct and proximate result, Plaintiff suffered injuries and damages.
To sum it up. Torture is tolerated in the Montgomery County Jail run by Sheriff Phil Plummer. Incidents have been routinely covered up, and the ones that have been exposed are apparently condoned by the Sheriff. Even though he complains he’s short a captain who is on paid leave for her actions in pepper spraying Amber Swink, the captain had been promoted from sergeant to captain in the time between her pepper spray incident and the revelation almost a year later. In the second pepper spraying, no officers were disciplined, and again, there was a coverup of the incident and public records requests were denied. Sheriff Plummer refuses to admit that these are inappropriate uses of pepper spray- a substance that can and has caused deaths around the globe in more appropriate uses than these.
It takes 23,000 signatures to recall Sheriff Plummer. Or, one judge to rule that he and his deputies are breaking the law and can’t be entrusted with public safety in the jail. The question is, who is going to step up first.
NOTE: there will be a protest at the jail, Friday, February 24th at 6pm outside the jail on W. Second Street.