Captain in pepper-spraying incident returns to work

Video of the pepper spraying later disappeared from sheriff’s office records
caption arrowCaption
Video of the pepper spraying later disappeared from sheriff’s office records

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s office captain whose pepper-spraying of a restrained inmate — and the disappearance of records of the incident — sparked controversy, investigations and a lawsuit, returned to work this week.

Sheriff’s office records obtained by the Dayton Daily News show Capt. Judith Sealey returned to work from administrative leave on May 8 and is assigned to the support services administration division. She previously worked at the jail and was involved in community outreach, according to the sheriff’s office website.

RELATED: Missing paperwork raises questions about pepper spray probe

According to the sheriff’s office annual report: “The Administrative Services Division is under the command of Chief Deputy Rob Streck. The primary responsibilities of this division consist of investigating complaints made against the agency or employees, mortgage foreclosures/delinquent tax sales, property room, records, ITS, fleet management, communication systems and the Regional Dispatch Center.”

Sheriff Phil Plummer signed the order to return Sealey to work on May 3, two days after a Montgomery County grand jury declined to indict Sealey on felony assault charges.

RELATED: Woman at center of pepper spray lawsuit back in court

In announcing the grand jury’s decision, Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. noted that it did not prevent Dayton city prosecutors from seeking misdemeanor charges.

“The investigative materials are still in the process of being collected by the (Dayton) police department,” Dayton city prosecutor Stephanie Cook said Thursday. “At some point, they will be formally presenting them to the office for review, but that has not yet happened.”

Cook said her office wouldn’t be held up by any federal investigation and will proceed with the case review regardless of any other agency’s plan.

“I’ve heard they’re looking at it, but I have no idea whether they are planning on taking this to the next step, if they’ve completed their review and they have no intention of going any further,” Cook said. “I have no idea what their intention is.”

Cook said the most likely charge to be considered is misdemeanor assault — which she defined as a physical injury such as pain up to some significant injuries. She said her office likely wouldn’t get any information until next week.

Plummer previously said an internal review was being conducted as to whether Sealey violated sheriff’s office policy when, as a sergeant in November 2015, she pepper-sprayed inmate Amber Swink while Swink was strapped into a restraint chair.

“I’m appalled that she’d be put back in any position of authority,” said Swink’s civil attorney, Doug Brannon. “Clearly, she should have been fired and disciplined at the very least, and none of that’s occurred.”

Plummer could not be reached for comment Thursday about what Sealey’s current job duties include.

SPECIAL PROJECT: Lawsuits, accusations plague county jails in the region

A federal probe is also reportedly under way of the incident and the disappearance from county records of a video and some reports of the incident.

FBI spokesman Todd Lindgren said his office “cannot confirm or deny the existence of a potential investigation” when asked about its status.

The video became public when Brannon posted it online. Her lawsuit against the sheriff’s office is proceeding, though Brannon said the prosecutor’s office hasn’t responded to his requests for discovery.

Sealey had been on paid administrative leave since October, shortly after the incident became public. She was paid $91,375 last year, according to the I-Team Payroll Project.


Explore15 lawsuits allege mistreatment of inmates at area jails
ExploreOfficer who sheriff tried to charge for jail assault claims unfairness (VIDEO)
ExploreJail cameras capture some drama, little detail (VIDEO)
ExploreLawsuits allege deadly neglect of inmates in Butler, Warren counties
ExploreOfficers spit on, attacked in jails bursting with mentally ill (VIDEO)
ExploreMore oversight sought for area jails

About the Authors