A 59-year-old homeless man who says he was beaten into a two-month coma by a group of sheriff’s office employees has filed a civil rights lawsuit in Dayton’s U.S. District Court. According to the lawsuit, the beating left him unable to take proper care of himself, is cognitively disabled, and now is relegated to getting around in a wheelchair.
CBS News reported this week that Joseph Guglielmo, a homeless military veteran who once served as an Air Force operating room technician and now suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Montgomery County for their alleged improper treatment of him while in the Montgomery County Jail. Specifically, as reported by the Dayton Daily News, the suit names Montgomery County’s commissioners, its sheriff, and six sheriff’s office employees as defendants.
Guglielmo was arrested in January 2015 after he had a disagreement with a homeless shelter employee. He had been staying at the facility, which is located in Dayton, Ohio.
In the lawsuit, Guglielmo claims that after he was booked into the Montgomery County Jail, he began banging on his cell when a sheriff’s office employee called roll call. He then alleges that four corrections officers beat him in his cell as two others remained outside and did nothing to stop them, even as one employee threw Guglielmo bodily against a concrete wall.
The complaint also alleges that some of the corrections officers purposely stood to block the surveillance camera view of the cell, ensuring that none of the alleged incident was caught on video.
Two of the named defendants would later find Guglielmo unresponsive in his cell. He was then taken to the hospital.
Jennifer Branch, one of Guglielmo’s attorneys, said during the filing, “When people get booked into the Montgomery County Jail, the jailer is just supposed to keep them safe, no matter how much they’re yelling, or how disoriented they may be because of mental illness, the officers should not react with violence. Instead, they should be providing the medical care.”
Guglielmo, according to the Dayton Daily News, was initially arrested on charges of resisting arrest, obstructing official business and aggravated menacing. The homeless shelter employee said Guglielmo had become agitated when he was forbidden to go into a restricted area in the shelter.
Joseph Guglielmo was subsequently sentenced to 180 days in jail (with two days served suspended) when he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of aggravated menacing.
The complaint alleged that defendant Matthew Snyder had “beat Guglielmo repeatedly and threw him against the concrete wall” and “delivered several closed-fist strikes” to Guglielmo’s head, around his eye and abdomen.
Guglielmo was given ice packs after the alleged beating, but when he was found unresponsive, he was transferred to Miami Valley Hospital and underwent surgery. He then lapsed into a coma for two months.
Documents submitted in the federal lawsuit allege that Guglielmo is now unable to take care of himself, and he currently lives at a nursing and rehabilitation facility.
According to Newsmax, statistics indicate that about one-third of all homeless veterans were stationed in a war zone at one point during their service. Two-thirds of homeless vets have served at least three years. More than 50 percent of them suffer some for of disability and two-thirds suffer from substance abuse. Roughly 50 percent of homeless vets are somewhere between the ages of 18 and 50, as compared to less than 30 percent of all veterans being between 18 and 50.
Still, there are signs of improvement, due to a nationwide effort to deal with the problem. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, statistics show that there was a 33 percent decline in the number of homeless veterans from 2010 to 2014.
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