Disturbing video shows a black man being pepper-sprayed by deputies in an Ohio jail, even though the man, identified as Charles Wade, was strapped into a restraint chair.
The incident took place in October, when Wade was about to be booked in the Montgomery County jail in Dayton, Ohio, the Washington Post reports. Footage shows Wade struggling with an officer and attempting to pound his head against a wall prior to being restrained.
As Wade was being restrained by officers, with his hands apparently already cuffed behind his back, he began to struggle a bit again. An officer, identified as Sgt. John W. Eversole, approached Wade and deployed pepper spray in Wade’s face at point-blank range.
Shortly after, Eversole deployed a second round of the spray in Wade’s face.
In the video, obtained by the Post through a local community activist, Wade could be heard coughing and pleading, “I can’t breathe, please help me.”
On Tuesday, Wade filed a lawsuit accusing officers of using excessive force “that shocked the conscience and in fact amounted to torture,” and “violated his rights to be secure from cruel and unusual punishment.”
According to the Post, the incident began when Wade was arrested by an Ohio State trooper for alleged drunken driving. As officers searched Wade, he began to slam his head against a padded portion of the wall—out of frustration about being arrested, according to his attorney—prompting officers to choose to restrain him.
“I’m not resisting,” Wade could be heard saying. “I’m not doing anything to fight you guys. If you cause any pain, my lawyer will know about it.”
As officers strapped Wade into the chair, he complained about his hands being in pain.
“Look what you do to us niggers,” Wade said. “Do you white people feel good doing this to us niggers? Yeah, you do, don’t you?”
The lawsuit also claims that Wade only began to struggle because his handcuffs were causing “severe pain and injury” as officers moved them around. It also accuses Eversole of taking his forearm and placing it across Wade’s chest and neck area, “further restricting his ability to breathe despite Plaintiff’s cries that he already could not breathe.”
Wade’s attorney, Douglas Brannon, says that his client feared mistreatment in the jail, given a similar incident that occurred at the same jail involving a woman named Amber Swink. Swink was pepper-sprayed inside a seven-point harness in 2015, the Post notes.
Footage of Swink’s ordeal went viral after she passed out in an isolation cell covered in pepper spray. She blasted her treatment as “torture.” Wade, according to the Post, had seen the footage of the incident online.
Brannon is also Swink’s attorney, and although Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer called her treatment “an isolated incident,” Brannon is now pointing to Wade’s case to show that that may not be the case.
“I think it happened again because there was no discipline handed out to officers involved in abusing Amber Swink,” Brannon said. “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.
“There’s a culture of brutality within the Montgomery County jail where sergeants and corrections officers continue to act with impunity,” Brannon added. “It’s a fundamental breakdown of supervision and training.”
Read more at the Washington Post.