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Retired county jail sergeant claims cover-up of pepper-spray incident

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 8:55 PM
By: Breaking News Staff

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.

Campbell said News Center 7 reached out to her attorney as well Thursday, but he also said he could not comment on the case.