United States District Court, D. Maryland
RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
response to the above-captioned civil rights complaint,
Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment.
ECF 19. Plaintiff opposes the motion. ECF21. The Court finds
a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule
105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below,
Defendants' motion, construed as a Motion for Summary
Judgment, shall be granted and judgment shall be entered in
Willie Pennix is an inmate committed to the custody of the
Maryland Division of Correction and confined at Eastern
Correctional Institution (ECI). He alleges that on July 20,
2013, his cellmate, Stewart Partlow, stabbed him between 27
to 30 times. Pennix claims that prior to the date of his
assault he informed Defendants Standford and Drummond that
Partlow was a risk to his safety. Pennix states he asked not
to be placed in the cell with Partlow when he was moved to
the cell where Partlow was housed, but he was required to
move in anyway. Pennix claims that Defendants failed to
protect him from harm in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
ECF 1 at p. 3.
response to the Complaint, Defendants admit that Pennix was
stabbed multiple times by Partlow on January 28, 2014, and
that he sustained multiple injuries which required his
emergency transport to an area hospital for treatment.
Defendants state, however, that there is no evidence that
prior to the assault on Pennix, that Partlow presented a
threat of harm to his safety. Rather, the investigation that
was conducted immediately after the assault was discovered
revealed that a disagreement had arisen between the two men
on the morning of the incident and the assault occurred
without warning. ECF 19 at Ex. 1.
to the information gathered in the investigation conducted by
the Internal Investigation Division (IID) for the Department
of Public Safety and Correctional Services that followed the
assault, Pennix was found, at approximately 7:10 p.m., lying
on the floor just outside of his assigned cell door, injured
with multiple stab wounds. Id. at p. 2. Officer
Nehemiah King was conducting rounds on the housing unit when
an inmate told him that Pennix had been injured and that King
should go to the second-floor tier to assist him.
Id. at p. 5. King went to the second-level, found
Pennix as described, immediately called for assistance over
the radio, and asked Pennix what happened to him.
Id. Pennix told King that his cellmate (Partlow) had
stabbed him. Id.
responding officers arrived on the scene, King went to the
dayroom to locate Partlow and discovered him in the shower,
washing blood off of his body. Id. King ordered
Partlow out of the shower and placed him in handcuffs without
received initial first-aid assistance from a nurse who
responded to the housing unit. Upon her arrival, she called
for additional assistance and instructed correctional
officers to call 911, due to the large amount of blood on the
scene. ECF 19 at Ex. 1, p. 36. Pennix was loaded onto a
gurney by correctional officers who had responded to the
scene and moved to the medical unit. Id. Attempts
were made to control the bleeding while the ambulance was en
route to the prison. Id. Pennix was taken to
Peninsula Regional Medical Center (PRMC) where he was treated
for approximately 13 stab wounds, none of which were life
threatening but were treated as serious given the severity
and the number of wounds sustained. Id. at p. 6. Six
of the wounds Pennix sustained were to his head, five were to
his back, one to his left arm, and one wound was sustained to
his left shoulder. Id.
was contacted regarding the incident at 7:45 p.m. and the
case was assigned to Detective Sergeant William Sage at 8:00
p.m.. ECF 19 at Ex. 1, p. 6. Sage arrived at PRMC at 9:00
p.m. to conduct an interview with Pennix, who informed Sage
that at the time of the assault he was sitting on the toilet
when Partlow entered the cell and stabbed him repeatedly with
a "shank." Id. Sage states that Pennix
told him that he had not had "serious prior issues with
. . . Partlow in the past but he had a verbal altercation
with [him] earlier in the day." Id. Sage
further reports that Pennix told him he believed Partlow had
been "messin" with his Playstation and that this
was the cause of the verbal altercation. Id.
arrived at ECI at approximately 10:30 p.m. and reported to
the housing unit where the assault took place, HU 3, A tier.
ECF 19 at Ex. 1, p. 6. Pennix and Partlow occupied cell 46
and Sage noted that most of the blood was concentrated at the
entrance of that cell. Id. After taking pictures of
the scene, including the shower area where Partlow was
discovered attempting to wash the blood from his body, Sage
interviewed Officer King. Id. at pp. 6-7.
related that when he discovered Partlow in the shower he was
wearing only gym shorts and black shoes. Id. at p.
7. When King was escorting Partlow to the medical unit he
said that Partlow stated: "I told him to leave me alone.
He kept bothering me." Id.
interviewed Partlow, advising him of his rights which Partlow
waived. Id. Partlow related that he had assaulted
Pennix because he felt Pennix was verbally abusive and that
he was constantly accusing him of things. Id.
Partlow further explained that on the day of the assault,
Pennix accused him of using his Playstation and claimed
Pennix had yelled at him for a long period of time.
Id., Partlow claimed he could not take it any longer
and planned to assault Pennix. Id. Partlow admitted
to obtaining a "shank" but would not disclose the
location from which he retrieved same. Id. He then
entered the cell where Pennix was sitting on the toilet and
struck Pennix repeatedly with the weapon until he heard other
inmates on the tier telling him to stop or he would
"kill him." Id. Partlow then dropped the
weapon on the tier and went to the dayroom shower to wash the
blood from his body. Id. Partlow provided the
following written statement:
In Illustrating my mind frame in my decision to assault my
cellmate, I Stewart Partlow 317677 made a conscious decision
to do so because I was tired of being bullied and verbally
abused on a regular basis by my cellmate Willie Pennix. I am
only 5'08', 140 lbs., and my cellmate is at least
6'03" and 245 at least. He is a weight lifter and
just continued to pressure me with his verbal abuse which
begun to handicap my mental stability as well. Things became
so bad for me that I started to feel unsafe being confined in
a cell with him. He is strong enough and big enough to man
handle me as he wish. When I was 20 years old I was raped at
MCTC by my cell buddy while in lockup and I never wanted to
be in that situation again by feeling so violated and
helpless. Although my cellmate never made any advances upon
me in such a manner his aggression and abuse was such that I
felt for safety and tonight I just could no longer tolerate
the fear I felt being locked in a cell with him. So I
unleashed all my pent-up rage and fury against him. I went
and retrieved a weapon and used it to repeatedly assault him.
It wasn't an act that I wanted to commit but I just
couldn't take it no linger (sic) and lost control of my
rationale (sic). Before this incident, I was on the honor
tier and had not received an infraction since 2008. I had
only months to serve before my mandatory release in 2015 and
I truly didn't want no trouble at all but as I stated, I
felt that if I didn't act first I was subject to be
ECF 19 at Ex. 1, p. 8. A criminal summons was obtained on
January 29, 2014, charging Partlow with first degree assault