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Cellblock attendant pleads guilty in jailhouse assault

The public is still waiting to see the jailhouse video from that night in May of last year, but it's impact on the man at the center of it – cellblock attendant Matthew J. Jaskula – began to take focus Tuesday.

Just three weeks before his trial in Buffalo federal court, Jaskula, 27, admitted pushing handcuffed suspect Shaun P. Porter face first into a metal door and then dragging his body, still handcuffed, to a nearby cell.

The former cellblock attendant made the admissions as part of a felony plea agreement that includes a recommended sentence of up to 21 months in federal prison.

"Mr. Jaskula snapped and did what he did," said Paul G. Dell, Jaskula's defense lawyer. "From Day One, Mr. Jaskula wanted to take responsibility. He's ashamed."

As part of his plea agreement, Jaskula admitted shoving Porter, 37, handcuffed and facing a wall at the time, face first into a door while being housed at the cellblock on May 19 of last year.

Prosecutor: Plea deal reached in cellblock beating case

Jaskula’s actions, caught on jailhouse cameras, also caused the victim to hit his face on the door and, while falling to the ground, striking his face on the ledge of a shelf.

After hitting the floor face first, Porter became limp and unresponsive and, according to court papers, Jaskula grabbed him again and dragged him more than 10 feet to an open cell.

Court papers indicate the victim was bleeding profusely by this time and, while being dragged into the room, hit his head on the door frame, causing more blood to spill.

The FBI, which led the investigation, says 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.

"He knew what he was doing was wrong," Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Guerra III said Tuesday. "There was no one at the police department telling him what to do."

Guerra said Porter's facial injuries were serious enough to require treatment at Erie County Medical Center and dismissed Dell's suggestions that others, including the Buffalo Police, contributed to the incident.

Dell, who insists the cellblock environment was dangerous, says Jaskula was earning $10 an hour, working 70 to 80 hours a week and had been bitten by another suspect six months earlier. He says the video also shows Jaskula eventually providing help to Porter.

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.

"Nobody there is doing anything," Dell said of the officers.

Guerra said the officers' are not under  investigation and indicated their conduct did not warrant criminal charges.

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.

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

Guerra said the U.S. Attorneys office will no longer oppose making the video public.

When Jaskula is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo, he will face a recommended sentence of between 15 and 21 months in prison. He also will have to pay an unspecified amount of restitution to Porter.

Porter is also suing Jaskula and the city in a civil suit.

Jaskula pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of deprivation of constitutional rights under color of law.

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