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Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 8:55 PM
DAYTON — Amber Swink was in a seven-point restraint chair in a holding cell here at the jail when she was pepper-sprayed. But no one in the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office was ever able to produce any video of the incident.
However, in an exclusive interview with our partners at the Dayton Daily News, retired Sheriff's Sgt. Eric Banks says he made a copy from the jail's surveillance system after he claims he received an e-mail that made him believe it was all about to be swept under the rug.
"It's very clear the intention was for the incident to remain hidden from the media, from the public," he said.
Banks just received a medical retirement a few weeks ago.
But he says he made his concerns known to supervisors while he was still on the job, just after this 2015 pepper-spray incident, asking them about potential discipline or an internal investigation.
"There was no effort whatsoever in preserving a copy so they could look into the incident," Banks said.
Banks claims that after he received an email claiming all video of 2015 incidents had been lost from the system, he made a copy of the pepper-spraying.
It ended up in the hands of Amber Swink's lawyer - she's the woman restrained in the chair.
She'd been brought to the jail, accused of assault on a police officer at a party, for which she later received five years’ probation.
Jail records indicate she was yelling repeatedly, possibly cussing and placed in the restraint chair.
When she continued yelling, then Sheriff's Sgt. Judith Sealey, who was later promoted to major, went in and pepper-sprayed her, according to those records.
Banks claims he went to his superiors, even to the FBI.
"I want people to know I tried to do the right thing," he said.
Sealey has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor assault charge.
WHIO-TV reached out to the sheriff's office about Banks's claims.
News Center 7's Mike Campbell said the personnel director at the sheriff's office sent him an email that reads, in part, "As we do have an ongoing investigation that is not complete, the sheriff's office cannot presently answer your questions."
He said the sheriff's office also told him in the email that they can't address the settlement with Amber Swink because of a confidentiality agreement that limits them to statements that the lawsuit was settled amicably.
Court documents indicate Swink received $375,000.
Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 5:18 PM
BUTLER COUNTY — A prisoner who was found unresponsive this morning in a Butler County jail has died.
At about 8 a.m., a corrections officer at Resolutions Jail on Second Street found Billy Hall, 31, unresponsive, according to Sheriff Richard Jones. Hall was transported by Hamilton emergency crews to Fort Hamilton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Hall was being held on charges out of Hamilton County. He had been in the jail for about two weeks.
Published: Friday, March 02, 2018 @ 2:52 AM
Updated: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 8:39 AM
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Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 2:41 PM
Updated: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 4:40 PM
A Montgomery County Common Pleas Court judge denied a preliminary injunction sought by a Dayton resident who alleged an Ohio Open Meetings (OMA) Act violation because he was denied in his efforts to join a bus tour of Dayton Public Schools facilities.
Judge Richard Skelton ruled Monday in a 7-page decision that Dayton resident David Esrati did not meet the burden of proof about the bus tour containing substantive recommendations or discussion regarding potential closures of school buildings.
Esrati said he plans to continue the suit.
Skelton did write that the 20-member School Facilities Task Force formed to help Acting Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli was a public body — disagreeing with DPS and Dayton city attorneys.
“The court rejects the argument of DPS that the Task Force was only an advisory group for the superintendent and was not a ‘public body’ itself,” Skelton wrote, later adding: “Pretending that the Task Force, including three members of the Board, was only for the Board’s employee would allow a simple subterfuge to avoid the OMA.”
A Dayton Board of Education meeting that includes a potential vote on a school closing proposal is scheduled for Tuesday. An injunction could have stopped or delayed that vote.
“The burden is on the plaintiff to prove that such deliberative discussion occurred during the bus tour and was used by the Board (of Education) in proposing its formal action,” Skelton wrote. “The plaintiff did not produce the first witness who offered any proof that a deliberative or any other discussion was had on the bus tour at issue.”
Skelton wrote that the court “has no basis to find that plaintiff has shown he is likely to succeed on his claimed violation of the OMA at the trial on the merits.
Esrati said Skelton’s decision “makes no sense” and that he received legal advice that he should — and plans to — take the case to trial, currently scheduled for July 11.
“He said clearly they were a public body, and how I’m supposed to prove what they discussed or didn’t discuss is irrelevant because they’re not allowed to meet in private unless it’s for matters of executive session,” Esrati said, later adding: “There’s no way of me proving it because I wasn’t in the bus or in the school or anything else. And that’s a violation.”
Esrati filed the lawsuit without an attorney. He contends he was not allowed to attend a February bus tour of Dayton schools during which task force members went into schools until district attorneys advised them to cancel remaining stops.
On Thursday, Esrati questioned Lolli and also was cross-examined by DPS attorney Brian Wildermuth during the nearly 2½-hour, wide-ranging hearing.
Wildermuth did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Wildermuth, who has said the task force wasn’t a public body and isn’t subject to the open meetings laws, argued in a post-hearing brief that the group was not a decision-maker and didn’t reach any consensus or specific recommendations.
“Plaintiff had the burden of proof,” Wildermuth wrote. “He did not carry that burden.”
Esrati said the board’s actions are a big part of the district’s problem.
Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 9:48 AM
SPRINGFIELD — Topre America Corp. will expand again in Springfield, pledging to create more than 200 jobs and invest $73 million.
The third expansion at the manufacturer announced this morning comes before the Japanese auto parts firm has even completed construction on its latest project. Topre announced plans last year to invest $55 million and create 86 jobs in a 177,000-square-foot manufacturing plant.
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The latest expansion will add a 138,000-square-foot stamping facility to that site.
That brings the company’s total investment to about $130 million, with a projected total workforce just shy of 300 employees.
Springfield’s workforce was one reason Springfield was chosen for the latest expansion over sites in Indiana, Alabama and Tennessee.