United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge
Andre Williams, a Maryland Division of Correction prisoner
currently housed at Western Correctional Institution
(“WCI”), has filed a civil rights action seeking
$300, 000.00and alleging that seven correctional
officers entered his cell and assaulted him. In response,
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative,
motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 20, which Williams
opposes, ECF No. 22. Because the court will consider exhibits
outside of the pleadings to determine the outcome of this
case, the motion will be treated as one for summary judgment
under Rule 56. The court finds a hearing in this matter
unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For
the reasons that follow Defendants' motion for summary
judgment will be granted.
alleges that in response to a “peaceful protest”
at Maryland Correctional Training Center (“MCTC”)
concerning the quality of food, he was assaulted on the
afternoon of January 11, 2016, by Defendants McKinley,
Yonker, Fiorita, Bair, Durboraw, Carr and Hollar. Williams
states that he was asleep in his cell and unable promptly to
respond to Defendants' demands that he remove the
covering from his cell window, at which time Defendants
entered his cell, pushed him to the ground, and hit and
choked him until he lost consciousness. ECF No. 1, ECF No. 3
at p. 8. Williams does not allege any misconduct on the part
of Defendant Morgan, MCTC's warden.
sworn statements and video footage submitted with their
summary judgment motion demonstrate that the actions taken to
extract Williams from his cell were neither random nor
unprovoked. On January 11, 2016, MCTC staff were conducting
feed-up of the C-tier of Housing Unit 7, a segregation unit
where prisoners had food delivered to their cells. ECF No.
20-2 at ¶ 3, Decl. of Lt. William McKinley, with
attached records. Williams was an inmate incarcerated at
Housing Unit 7, C-Tier. Id. That day, several of
those housed on the Unit refused their meals, yelling for
others to do the same. Id. at ¶ 4. The incident
began around 8:45 a.m. and continued through the day.
staff attempted to ameliorate the disturbance by providing an
extra cookie with the meals, but the demonstrators wanted
additional protein. Id. When told the meals that
they received were identical to those provided other
prisoners, including those in general population, some
prisoners began clogging their toilets around 10:00 a.m.
Id. at ¶ 5. Those who did so had their water
shut off, and those who were deemed insubordinate were
written up for violating institutional rules. Id.
then began to impede the staff's ability to conduct a
“count” of those on the tier by blocking the
windows on the cell doors in violation of prison rules.
Id. at ¶ 6. By about 4:10 p.m., many windows
had been covered and only five prisoners had accepted their
meals. Id. at ¶ 7. McKinley, who was the
officer in charge, requested permission from his superiors to
assemble a “Forced Count Team” and conduct a
“forced count” wherein a team of officers opens a
cell door to account for the occupant(s). Id. at
¶ 8. Because a forced count is often preceded by an
inmate covering his cell window and refusing to remove the
obstruction, an officer opening the door is not certain of
what is occurring inside the cell. The officer may be
vulnerable to an attack, or the prisoner may be attempting an
escape. Id. Due to the nature of forced counts and
the risks involved, they are videotaped, and officers are
usually dressed in riot gear, which may include body armor
and a shield, along with pepper-spray. Id. at ¶
received permission to assemble the team of officers to
conduct a forced count around 5:30 p.m. Id. at
¶ 10. The team included McKinley and Defendants Bradley
Younker, Duane Bair, Gary Durboraw, James Fiorita, and Harry
Carr. Id. at ¶ 10 and p. 5. McKinley can be
seen on film talking into the camera explaining the
situation. ECF No. 20-3, Cell Extraction Video, Disk 1, 00:01
- 1:18. He introduces himself and members of the team
assembled to conduct the forced count. Id. Each
officer is suited in armor, which has an assigned number for
identification. Id. McKinley explains that a nurse
is also present to attend to any medical needs that may
arise. Id. The officers are introduced, and the
number on their body armor is identified on camera: Younker,
assigned number 3; Hollar, assigned number 4; Durboraw,
assigned number 6; Bair, assigned number 328; Carr, assigned
number 2; and Fiorita, assigned number 5. Id.
was among those who had blocked his cell window. ECF No. 20-2
at ¶ 10. After Williams refused to uncover his
window, McKinley ordered that the cell door be opened by the
“Force Count Team.” Id. The video shows
a team of officers arriving at Williams's cell. ECF No.
20-4, Cell Extraction Video, Disk 2, at 00:55. The window is
obstructed. Id. Officers are heard ordering Williams
to remove the obstruction, warning him that failure to do so
promptly will result in the door being opened. Id.
at 00:55-1:15. After the obstruction is not removed, the cell
door begins to open. Id. at 1:20. After the door is
open, Sgt. Younker, standing in the doorway enters the cell,
followed by other officers, who can be heard repeatedly
yelling “stop resisting.” Id. at 1:23
-1:48. An officer turns on the light to the cell.
Id. at 1:33-1:38.
avers that when the cell door was opened, Williams lunged
forward. Younker Decl., Id. at ¶ 11 and p. 5.
It is impossible fully to discern this from the videotape,
because the camera was shot from the hallway and/or at the
cell door, behind the officers who entered the cell.
Williams' leg can be seen on the bottom bunk-bed,
indicating he was not on the ground, with his palms placed on
the floor, as directed. ECF No. 20-4, Disk 2 at 2:03.
Williams explains he failed to comply because he was asleep
on his bed at the time defendants entered his cell. Williams
is pinned down and handcuffed. Id. In total, the
extraction took approximately two-and-half minutes.
Id. 1:23 - 2:50. The cell door begins to open at
approximately 1:20, with officers entering the cell at
approximately 1:23. Id. By 2:50, the officers are
carrying Williams, handcuffed, out of the cell. Id.
footage shows Williams being carried, while handcuffed, to a
special containment cage. Id. at 2:50 to 3:32. The
footage does not show that Williams was struck in any way
during this time, nor does it show that Williams was
unconscious. Id. Once placed in the cage, he is
helped by an officer who assists him in sitting upright.
Id. at 3:32 - 4:10. Williams is heard expressing
difficulty breathing, id., and was taken to the
dispensary for medical treatment at about 5:44 pm. ECF No.
20-5, Medical Records of Andre Williams at p. 2. His vital
signs were stable and he had no abrasions or bleeding.
Williams complained of a sore back but was able to walk and
move without problem. Id. He had some redness on the
right side of his face, but left the dispensary in fair
condition and was returned to the custody of the prison
received a “Notice of Inmate Rule Violation”
charging him with violating five institutional rules: Rule
100 - Engaging in a disruptive act; Rule 101 - Committing
assault or battery on staff; Rule 312 - Interfering with or
resisting the performance of staff duties; Rule 400 -
Disobeying an order; and Rule 408 - Misuse, alter, tamper
with, damage, or destroy state property or property of
another. ECF No. 20-2 p. 4. Williams pleaded guilty to
violations of Rules 312, 400 and 408 at a disciplinary
hearing held on March 14, 2016. Id. at pp. 5-10. The
hearing officer determined he was guilty of violating Rule
100 and Rule 101 as well. Id. at p. 9.