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Weeks v. Dorchester County Detention Center

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 23, 2014

PAUL WEEKS
v.
DORCHESTER COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, et al.

MEMORANDUM

CATHERINE C. BLAKE, District Judge.

Now pending is the defendants'[1] motion for summary judgment. ( See ECF No. 38.) Plaintiff Paul Weeks opposes the motion. ( See ECF No. 42.) The court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local R. 105.6. For the following reasons, the defendants' motion shall be granted, and judgment shall be entered in their favor.

BACKGROUND

Weeks alleges a series of events beginning with his arrest and transport to the Dorchester County Detention Center on September 6, 2009. (Compl., ECF No. 1, at 4.) According to Weeks, when he arrived, he failed to answer questions asked of him during the intake procedure. ( Id. ) Weeks was instructed to change his clothes, but when he attempted to comply, Corporal[2] Stanley stated that she was tired of "messing around with" him. ( Id. ) In reply, Weeks called her a "bitch." ( Id. ) Corporal Stanley then asked her co-workers to "get the Cadillac."[3] ( Id. ) Weeks denies threatening any of the officers or acting in a violent manner. ( Id. )

Officer Wheatley ordered Weeks to walk down a narrow passage across the room, and he complied. ( Id. at 4, 7.) Weeks claims that Corporal[4] Schuyler then hit him in the chest with two open hands, knocking him backward to the floor. ( Id. at 7.) Officers Wheatley and Batson picked Weeks up from the floor. ( Id. ) When Weeks asked why he was hit, Corporal Schuyler responded that Weeks had been "resisting." ( Id. ) Upon being helped to his feet, Weeks was leaned over a table and placed in handcuffs. ( Id. ) He was then forced to sit in the PDU, which Weeks describes as a chair mounted to a platform with wheels. ( Id. ) He claims that his feet were shackled to the platform, and that he was rolled into the visiting room, as ordered by Corporal Stanley. ( Id. ) According to Weeks, he stayed there for "two hours or so" before a nurse came to check on him.[5] ( Id. )

Shortly after Weeks was examined by the nurse, he was rolled into the gym, where he was positioned in front of a large fan. ( Id. ) He claims that he was left there "for a long time." ( Id. ) Eventually, Corporals Stanley and Schuyler and Officers Wheatley and Batson came back to the gym, and ordered Weeks to stand up so that his handcuffs could be checked. ( Id. ) Weeks explained that his ankles were "lock[ed] tight with chains to the platform, " causing him too much pain to stand. ( Id. ) Officers Wheatley and Batson lifted him up by grabbing him under his arms. ( Id. ) Then, Corporal Schuyler "ran into [him]" and kicked him with his knee, knocking him back into the chair. ( Id. ) Weeks's handcuffs were tightened, and he cried out, telling the officers that he had hurt his back. ( Id. )

Weeks alleges that, after about an hour, the officers removed him from the gym, and placed him "in a room in front of a vent." ( Id. at 8.) The room was very hot, and he had difficulty breathing "because of the bag over [his] head." ( Id. ) After about an hour in this room, he was removed from the restraints. ( Id. ) Claiming cruel and unusual punishment, Weeks alleges that he spent a total of four hours restrained in the chair. ( Id. )

On September 9, 2009, Weeks was released to the custody of the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office. ( Id. ) The officers took him to the hospital, where he received an x-ray to his back and shoulder. ( Id. ) Weeks recalls that he was given medication and advised to "seek help" from his doctor upon his release. ( Id. ) Although his shoulder injury has healed, Weeks continues to suffer from the injury to his back. ( Id. )

On September 12, 2009, Weeks alleges that he went to the County Commissioner's Office to file a complaint regarding his treatment at the detention center, but his complaint was not accepted because he did not know the names of the officers. ( Id. at 9.) The Commissioner tried calling the detention center to get the officers' names, but he was not successful. ( Id. ) Additionally, the State's Attorney advised that he would conduct an independent investigation into his claims. ( Id. ) Weeks concludes that, when he attempted to follow up with the State's Attorney's Office, he was told that they were waiting for a report from the Maryland State Police. ( Id. )

The defendants' reports indicate a very different version of events. They assert that, on the morning of Weeks's arrest, Corporals Schuyler and Stanley went to the sallyport area of the detention center to accept custody of Weeks. ( See ECF No. 38-4, Ex. 2, at 12, 14.) Weeks looked very angry and, when Corporal Schuyler asked him for his paperwork, he responded in a hostile manner. ( Id. ) Corporal Schuyler told Weeks that he would carry the papers into the facility. ( Id. at 12.) He then took the papers from Weeks and led him into the sallyport area; however, Weeks continued to act belligerently, and additional assistance was required. ( Id. at 14, 16-17.) After calling for assistance, Corporal Stanley left the processing area. ( Id. at 14.)

Weeks was uncooperative during processing, refusing to answer Officer Wheatley's questions and calling the officers pejorative names. ( Id. at 12, 16-17.) Corporal Schuyler advised Weeks that he would be put on "observation watch" if he did not answer the questions. ( Id. at 12.) When Corporal Schuyler notified Corporal Stanley of Weeks's continued bad behavior, she advised that Weeks should be stripped of his clothes and placed in the observation unit where he could be watched. ( Id. at 12, 14.)[6]

Corporal Stanley returned to the processing area and, when she arrived, she heard Corporal Schuyler telling Weeks to remove his clothes so that he could change into detention center clothes. ( Id. ) Weeks refused, and stated that he did not know who had previously worn the detention center shorts. ( Id. at 14.) After advising Weeks "several time[s]" that he had to change his clothes, Corporal Stanley told the officers to place him in a "suicide wrap." ( Id. ) She also told Weeks that he would be placed in "medical observation" and would not be permitted to use the phone until he was cooperative. ( Id. at 15.) Weeks finally relented, removed his clothing, and allowed officers to put on the suicide wrap. ( Id. at 16-17.)

When Weeks was being escorted to the observation cell by Officer Batson, however, he pulled away from the officer. ( Id. at 15-16.) In response, Officers Batson and Wheatley attempted to restrain Weeks, and Corporal Schuyler placed both hands on Weeks's chest to prevent him from moving forward. ( Id. at 12, 15-16.) Weeks called Corporal Stanley a "bitch, " and Corporal Schuyler then pressed Weeks against a table and told him that could not be disrespectful toward the officers. ( Id. ) Nevertheless, Weeks continued to physically resist and to use foul language toward the officers. ( Id. )

In light of Weeks's continued resistance, Corporal Stanley decided to place him in the PDU. ( Id. at 15.) He was handcuffed and placed in leg irons, and Medic Wendy Jones was called in to check the restraints.[7] ( Id. ) After Jones approved the restraints, a "spit mask" was placed over Weeks's face. ( Id. at 16.) He was then transported to the inmate visitation area. ( Id. ) Weeks was restrained in the PDU from approximately 9:25 a.m. to noon, during which time he was ...


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