7 Eyewitness News joins legal fight to show public crime by city employee

Posted at 4:16 PM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-23 19:47:46-04

7 Eyewitness News has joined The Buffalo News in the filing of a new legal motion to force the City of Buffalo to release video of a former city cellblock attendant severely beating a man in police custody.

In an affidavit filed this week in State Supreme Court against the Buffalo Police Department, the News and the parent company of 7ABC, E.W. Scripps, request the city release surveillance video from May 2016 that shows  Matthew Jaskula beating a suspect in handcuffs at the city lockup downtown.

Freedom of Information requests filed by both 7 Eyewitness News and The Buffalo News asking the city to release the video have been denied, citing ongoing litigation.

The mayor's office has stated it would release the video for the public to see at the conclusion of criminal proceedings. The criminal trial is now over, but a court order states the video should be withheld from the media until further action by the court.

The affidavit filed this week asks State Supreme Court Justice Tracey Bannister to reverse her decision handed down in February to withhold the video. Bannister is also overseeing civil proceedings in the case, which have not concluded.

The U.S. Attorney's Office has told 7 Eyewitness News it no longer objects to the release of the tape.

Jaskula pleaded guilty May 30th to felony charges of deprivation of rights, referred to by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo as "excessive force." He admitted to pushing a man who was handcuffed face-first into a metal door, causing the door to fly open. Investigators said the victim then hit his face again on a shelf before falling to the ground.

Jaskula admitted to dragging the victim 10 to 15 feet to an open cell, where he was left bleeding and put in a restraint chair used for non-compliant prisoners. Jaskula reportedly left the victim in the chair for about an hour and 45 minutes without seeking medical attention.

He is now awaiting sentencing, and faces up to 21 months in prison.