United States District Court, D. Maryland
RAYMOND E. SIMS-LEWIS Plaintiff
SGT. JOHNSON, et al. Defendants
RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
response to this civil rights complaint, Defendants Johnson
and Dangerfield, Correctional Officers at the Maryland
Reception Diagnostic and Classification Center (MRDCC) filed
a Motion to Dismiss or in the alternative for Summary
Judgment. ECF 15. In opposition Plaintiff filed a Motion to
Proceed with Trial. ECF 18. The Court finds no need for a
hearing. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the
reasons that follow Defendants' motion, construed as a
Motion for Summary Judgment, shall be GRANTED.
Raymond E. Sims-Lewis an inmate committed to the custody of
the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional
Services (DPSCS) and currently confined in the Baltimore
Central Booking & Intake Center (BCBIC) (see ECF
19), alleges that while he was incarcerated at MRDCC he was
assaulted by Sgt. Johnson and Officer Dangerfield. ECF 1 at
pp. 3-4. He states that on October 20, 2016, Dangerfield
choked Plaintiff “almost to death” but that
Plaintiff was able to break free from the “death
hold.” Id. at p. 3. Once free, Plaintiff was
handcuffed and “repeatedly punched in the face”
by both Dangerfield and Johnson “while chief of
security supervised.” Id. Plaintiff claims
that Johnson and Dangerfield called him a “bitch ass
nigger” each time they punched him in the face.
Id. at p. 4. As a result of the assault, Plaintiff
claims he suffered injuries to his mouth and that he received
antibiotics “for the open bruises.” Id.
Plaintiff claims that his Eighth Amendment right to be free
from cruel and unusual punishment was violated and that
Dangerfield and Johnson violated his rights under the
Maryland Tort Claim Act and the Local Government Tort Claim
Act. Id. He states he suffered emotional distress
“due to . . . having a mental health crisis as the
state personel (sic) training wasn't equipped for handle
mental health patients.” Id. As relief he
seeks compensatory damages.
provide verified business records which include their written
statements prepared on the day of the incident concerned in
the complaint. Sgt. Dangerfield reported that he responded to
the “PSA area” on October 20, 2016, after being
informed that Plaintiff was refusing to return to his housing
unit. ECF 15 at Ex. 1, p. 9. When Dangerfield asked Plaintiff
why he was refusing to return to his housing unit, Plaintiff
responded that he wanted to see a doctor “and not that
man I want to see the woman.” Id. Dangerfield
informed Plaintiff that the female doctor he was referring to
was not there that day. Id. Plaintiff became upset
and then stated he wanted to be placed in a single cell.
Id. When Dangerfield told Plaintiff he would not get
a single cell and that he had to go back to his housing unit,
and ordered Plaintiff to stand up and place his hands behind
his back to be handcuffed, Plaintiff became irate.
Id. Plaintiff stood up and told the officers not to
touch him and “jumped towards Sgt. Johnson in an
aggressive manner.” Id. In response to
Plaintiff's aggression, Dangerfield and Johnson took him
to the floor, placed handcuffs on him, picked him up, and
escorted him to the medical unit where he was seen by a
nurse. Id. Dangerfield's statement under oath
prepared for this case reflects the same account of events.
ECF 15 at Ex. 2.
Johnson's statement reflects a similar course of events.
ECF 15 at Ex. 1, p. 7. Johnson states he was called to
“PSA” because Plaintiff was refusing to leave the
area “because he wanted to have a single cell.”
Id. After Plaintiff was told “he was not
single cell status, ” Plaintiff became loud and yelled
he was “not going anywhere.” Id. Johnson
states that Plaintiff was given a direct order to turn around
to be handcuffed, but he “became combative” and
“lunged toward [Johnson's] upper torso and was
taken to the floor.” Id. Johnson
“secured [Plaintiff's] right arm and handcuffs were
applied.” Id. In a later report written by
Johnson, he states that Plaintiff “stood up and charged
at me wrapping his arms around my waist.” Id.
at p. 33. Johnson's statement under oath prepared for
this case reflects the first statement he wrote regarding
this incident, i.e., it does not include an
allegation that Plaintiff wrapped his arms around
Johnson's waist. ECF 15 at Ex. 3.
was called by radio to the area by Officer Natalie Porter who
reported that Plaintiff was refusing to leave “bullpen
#33.” ECF 15 at Ex. 1, p. 10. Porter reported in her
statement that Johnson gave Plaintiff a direct order to turn
around and put his hands behind his back to be cuffed, but
Plaintiff “became combative and lunged toward”
Johnson. Id. Porter states that a “10-13 was
called” and Plaintiff “was taken down to the
floor . . . secured and escorted to medical.”
incident was investigated by Major Vivian Staten, who
determined that the “force used was justified in
self-defense.” ECF 15 at Ex. 1, p. 14. Staten further
found that Plaintiff “refused several verbal commands
to be handcuffed instead charging after Sergeant Arnold
regard to Plaintiff's statement that he was having a
mental health crisis (see ECF 1 at p. 3), Defendants
provide copies of Plaintiff's relevant mental health
records. ECF 15 at Ex. 4, p. 16. Plaintiff was seen on
October 20, 2016, the date of the incident, by Edward
Diamond, Psychology Associate. In the progress note written
by Diamond, he explained that medical staff requested that
someone from the psychology department interview Plaintiff
because “he reportedly presented himself at sick call
this morning with complaints of anxiety.” Id.
Diamond described Plaintiff as presenting “himself in
an angry and agitated fashion.” Id. Plaintiff
“refused to cooperate with attempts to assess his
mental status.” Id. Diamond noted that
Plaintiff had been seen by “psychiatry at MRDCC”
and was prescribed Risperdal, Prozac, and Diphenhydramine,
which he began taking one-month previously. Id.
background, Diamond reported that on October 19, 2016,
Plaintiff came to the medical department complaining of chest
pain and told Diamond he was given Tylenol, put into the bull
pen for observation, and placed on bed rest. Id. On
October 20, 2016, Plaintiff was called to the medical
department in response to a sick call request he had put in
previously regarding his eyesight and requesting glasses.
Id. Plaintiff told Diamond that the nurse evaluated
his vision, but that he was not told the disposition of his
request regarding his vision. Id. His blood pressure
was elevated (140/111), but Plaintiff denied any history of
treatment for hypertension. Id.
his encounter with Diamond, Plaintiff voiced suicidal
thoughts and stated that his plan was “to jump off of
the upper tier ‘face first' and land on his
neck.” Id. At that time Plaintiff did not know
when or where he would carry out this plan and told Diamond
that he needed to be housed alone, prescribed Elavil, and
that Diamond needed to accompany him to court. Id.
Diamond states in his progress note that Plaintiff would be
referred to the “IMHU at BCBIC for placement on
suicide/close observation.” Id. Follow-up with
psychology staff was also recommended as necessary or
requested. Id. at pp. 16 - 17.
medical record prepared when Plaintiff was brought for
evaluation following the use of force indicates that he
complained that officers punched him in the face and that he
had blood inside of his mouth. ECF 15 at Ex. 4, p. 18.
Plaintiff asked for water to drink. Id. Rosemary
Ojih, RN noted that Plaintiff had “no swelling or
discoloration” and that he appeared “very anxious