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Prosecutor: Plea deal reached in cellblock beating case

A video shows what Matthew J. Jaskula did to Shaun P. Porter last year.

Protected by a court order and still unseen by the public, the video shows Jaskula, a Buffalo cellblock attendant, assaulting Porter, a handcuffed suspect, investigators say.

Later this month, Jaskula is expected to plead guilty in the case.

"He's ashamed," said Paul G. Dell, Jaskula's defense lawyer. "He just wants to take responsibility for what he did and move on."

In court papers filed last week, the federal prosecutor leading the Jaskula investigation said the two sides have reached a plea agreement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Guerra III did not disclose what Jaskula, 26, will admit to, but indicated the former cellblock attendant will plead guilty on May 30, just three weeks before his scheduled trial in Buffalo federal court.

At the core of the criminal case against Jaskula is the allegation that he ordered Porter, 37, handcuffed at the time, to face a wall, and then grabbed him from behind, shoving him face-first into a door.

Judge sides with city: Public should not see video of inmate beating

The FBI, which led the investigation into the incident, says Jaskula’s actions, caught on jailhouse cameras, caused the victim to hit his face on the door and, while falling to the ground, strike his face on the ledge of a shelf before hitting the floor face-first.

After the victim became limp and unresponsive, Jaskula grabbed him again and dragged him 10 to 15 feet down a hallway to an open cell, according to court papers.

The papers indicate Porter was bleeding profusely and, while being dragged into the room, hit his head on the door frame, causing more blood to spill on the floor.

Prosecutors say Jaskula then placed Porter in a restraint chair used for uncooperative prisoners and left him without medical treatment for his facial injuries for about an hour and 45 minutes.

Dell says the video doesn't end there and, at one point, shows Jaskula providing help to Porter.

"If you keep watching, you'll see he goes over to him and eventually does the right thing," he said.

The video also shows two Buffalo police officers standing in the background, doing nothing to help Porter, according to Dell.

The officers, later identified as Joshua T. Craig and Anthony J. D’Agostino, were suspended without pay.

"You're going to see Buffalo's cops laughing and applauding," Dell said of the video.

The Buffalo News sought release of the video, but Supreme Court Justice Tracey A. Bannister said the video should be kept from the public until after Jaskula's criminal trial.

In deciding Jaskula's punishment, Dell thinks it's important to remember that the jailhouse environment is stressful and dangerous.

He also thinks the court should be aware that his client had been bitten by another inmate earlier in the year and had just finished a lengthy HIV prevention treatment.

Jaskula is charged with deprivation of rights under color of law and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors declined to comment on his possible guilty plea.

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