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Reynolds v. Williams

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 15, 2015

ROY GENE REYNOLDS, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. T. WILLIAMS, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD D. BENNETT, District Judge.

Defendants Brumage, [1] Davis, Scott, Stanholtz, and Williams filed a Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment (ECF 16) in response to the above-captioned civil rights Complaint. Plaintiff opposes the motion. ECF 18. Also pending are Plaintiff's Motions to Appoint Counsel[2] (ECF 12 and 13) and Defendants' Motion for Extension of Time (ECF 15). The Court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow summary judgment will be entered in favor of Defendants.

Background

Plaintiff Roy Gene Reynolds ("Reynolds") was at all times relevant to the instant case incarcerated at Roxbury Correctional Institution ("RCI").[3] He claims that on October 8, 2014, at approximately 8:15 a.m., Officers Brumage and Scott escorted him to "ASIA." He states at the time he had a sprained ankle and had asked for medical attention for it, but was denied same. During the escort, Reynolds claims that he stopped walking because of his ankle and, in response, Scott "choked him out" and slammed him down on his head. As a result, Reynolds states his right hand was fractured. ECF 1 at p. 3; ECF 4 at p. 3.

Reynolds further claims that on August 24, 2014, Sgt. Williams along with Officers Days and Shanholtz assaulted him by beating him in the chest and stomping on his back while he was in the shower. He states the assault caused him chest pains and that Defendants were "squeezing [his] right broken hand." ECF 4 at p. 3, see also ECF 1 at p. 3. Reynolds seeks monetary damages for physical and mental pain and claims he suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) as a result of the incidents described. Id.

Defendants observe that Reynolds' allegation concerning events taking place on August 24, 2014, appears to be a mistake on his part regarding the date as there is no record of an incident involving Reynolds and the named Defendants on that date. ECF 16 at Ex. 2. Defendants further assert that on October 8, 2014, at approximately 8:15 a.m., Defendant Brumage was escorting Reynolds from the dispensary back to "ASIA"[4] when Reynolds stated, "I am not fucking going there." Id. at Ex. 3, pp. 4, 6, 10, 12-13, 19, and 22. Brumage claims he attempted to explain to Reynolds he could not be put in a regular holding cell due to his loud and disruptive behavior. He alleges Reynolds then began to pull away from him and attempted to run to the front of the dispensary. Despite giving Reynolds direct orders to stop resisting, Brumage claims Reynolds became belligerent and refused to comply. Id.

Defendant Darnell Scott states he witnessed Reynolds resisting Brumage's escort and assisted Brumage's efforts to regain control of Reynolds. Once Brumage and Scott regained control of him, Reynolds was escorted to the ASIA area where he again became aggressive. Scott states that Reynolds grabbed Brumage's right forearm and stated, "I'm not going any further with you and this stupid nigger." Reynolds then used his left leg to "mule kick" Brumage in the left shin. During the struggle to regain control of Reynolds, Reynolds "flung himself backwards in an attempt to get away." ECF 16 at Ex. 3, p. 4. When Reynolds did this, Brumage observed that Reynolds hit the back of his head. Brumage and Scott were continuing efforts to regain control of Reynolds when he threw himself down to the floor, pulling Brumage down with him and causing Brumage to injure his back. Scott and Brumage managed to regain control of Reynolds and placed him into the ASIA cell. Id.

Immediately following the struggle, Reynolds was medically evaluated and observed to have a "small red nodule on [the] back of his head and his right hand [was] swollen and discolored." Id. at p. 12. Medical staff ordered an RCI staff transport of Reynolds to Maryland Correctional Institution - Hagerstown ("MCIH") hospital for an x-ray of his right hand. It was determined that Reynolds had sustained a broken right pinky finger during the incident. Id.

A report submitted by Officer D. Johnson confirms that Reynolds threw himself backward towards the floor and that Brumage tried to catch Reynolds, but was unable to do so. ECF 16 at Ex. 3, p. 13. He adds that Reynolds yelled at Scott calling him stupid and saying he hurt Reynolds' head. Id. Reynolds then got to his knees and Brumage helped him to his feet. Id. Johnson opened ASIA cell #9 for Reynolds who entered the cell and Johnson removed the handcuffs through the slot without further incident.[5] Id.

The medical report prepared following the incident indicates that Reynolds reported hitting his head and that he "went out for about a minute." ECF 16 at Ex. 3, p. 14. It was noted that Reynolds' hand was swollen and discolored with a small laceration and that Reynolds was unable to close his right hand for "grips." Id. Although Reynolds also complained his right ankle hurt because it had been fractured two weeks prior, [6] the examination revealed it was not swollen or discolored and that peripheral pulses were "palpable and strong." Id.

In addition to the correctional staff reports regarding the incident, an inmate, Ike Gilmore, provided a statement regarding what he had observed. ECF 16 at Ex. 3, p. 19. Gilmore states that he was cleaning up in the ASIA area when he saw Scott and Brumage escorting Reynolds to a cell when Reynolds "began to get rowdy." Id. Gilmore asserts that Reynolds started fighting the officers and fell to the floor "on his own free will." Id. Gilmore adds that, "no one threw inmate Reynolds to the floor as he stated." Id.

Reynolds was charged with violating disciplinary rules as a result of the incident, including assault on a staff member. ECF 16 at Ex. 3, p. 26. After a hearing on the charges, Reynolds was found guilty and the hearing officer noted that Reynolds "battered staff by grabbing CO's arm, interfered with duties, refused orders and used disrespectful language." Id. at p. 27. In addition, the hearing officer noted that Reynolds admitted he grabbed the officer's arm and that he used racial slurs. Id. at p. 28. Due to the serious nature of the charges and the fact that Brumage was injured, Reynolds was sentenced to 275 days of segregation, 235 days of diminution of confinement credits revoked, and a 6 month suspension of visiting privileges. Id. at pp. 28-29.

With regard to the incident occurring on October 24, 2014, Defendants Williams and Shanholtz were involved in a use of force against Reynolds and allege the use of force was justified under the circumstances. ECF 16 at Ex. 10 and 13.[7] The incident is summarized in an investigative report prepared by M. Cutter. Id. at Ex. 9. Cutter interviewed Williams, Shanholtz, and Reynolds as a part of the investigation and concluded the use of force was in compliance with Division of Correction guidelines. Id. at p. 3. Additionally, Williams and Stanholtz gave statements regarding the incident as part of the investigation. Id. at pp. 6-7 and 8-9.

The report notes that on October 24, 2014, Sgt. Williams was the officer in charge of Reynolds's housing unit. At approximately 3:45 p.m., Reynolds was escorted from his cell to the shower by Williams. When all the showers were full, Williams returned to the control center. After the ten minute shower time was over, Officer Fischer returned to the shower area to remove Reynolds and escort him back to his cell, but reported to Williams that Reynolds was refusing to leave. According to Fischer, Reynolds' refusal to return to his cell was based on his objection to having a cellmate who was Black. Williams advised Fischer to leave Reynolds in the shower and he would attempt to talk to Reynolds in a few minutes. When Williams arrived at the shower ...


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