Former attendant pleads guilty in 2016 jail abuse incident

May 30, 2017

A former Buffalo Police jail attendant pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to depriving the rights of an individual in custody in May 2016, during an incident that resulted in injuries to that person.

Matthew Jaskula, 27, entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Lawrence Vilardo in downtown Buffalo.

Matthew Jaskula leaves federal court Tuesday morning after pleading guilty to deprivation of civil rights in a May 2016 incident inside the Buffalo Police jail cell block.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Prosecutors say he can be seen on video shoving a prisoner face-first into a door. The victim, while falling to the ground, struck the ledge of a shelf with his face and then fell face-first to the floor. Jaskula then, according to prosecutors, dragged the victim several feet into an open jail cell, where the person struck his head again on a door frame, causing bleeding. 

The individual was then placed in a chair and left to sit, without any medical treatment, for approximately one hour and 45 minutes. 

Had Jaskula's case gone to trial and resulted in a conviction, he could have faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Under guidelines discussed in court Tuesday morning, it is more likely he'll serve a little less than two years behind bars when sentenced in October.

"It's all going to be up to the judge," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Guerra. "The judge will evaluate the case and everything and determine what Mr. Jaskula will get sentenced to."

Jaskula's attorney, Paul Dell, will ask the judge to spare his client any jail time, suggesting his desired career has been brought to an abrupt end. He indicated in court that Jaskula has resigned from the Buffalo Police Department. Dell also told reporters outside the courtroom that Jaskula worked under difficult conditions that should instead be handled by trained, experienced police officers.

"They make 10 dollars an hour. They work 60 to 80 hours a week," Dell said. "Matthew Jaskula was bitten within the last six months before this incident and had to go through AIDS prevention treatment. Fortunately he doesn't have AIDS but it's a cocktail of pills you have to take. And even while he was going through that, he was still made to work double shifts, 60 to 80 hours a week."

Defense attorney Paul Dell (left) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Guerra speak to reporters following proceedings Tuesday morning in federal court.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Dell said that the jail cell video will portray others enabling rough treatment of the victim, including officers who were "laughing." Guerra says no other police personnel will be prosecuted in this case.

"The officers are not under investigation," he said. "In fact, we've indicated in our opinion the officers did not commit any crime."

An attorney for the victim attended the hearing but did not comment upon leaving. A civil case against Jaskula is pending. Dell says the city and police union have turned their backs on his client.

"To my knowledge the city hasn't done anything about it. They hope this just kind of resolves the situation in the public."