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Vickers v. Dixon

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 6, 2018

WILLIAM TYLER VICKERS, Prisoner Identification No. 448913, Plaintiff,
v.
LEOND. DIXON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE D. CHUANG JUDGE.

         Self-represented Plaintiff William Tyler Vickers alleges that he was assaulted by Defendant Leon D. Dixon, a sheriffs deputy, as he was being escorted out of a courtroom at the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, Maryland. Vickers now brings this civil action against Dixon pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. Vickers requests that the state "fine and suspend" Dixon for the use of excessive force and for causing "mental anguish" to Vickers. Compl. at 3. Pending before the Court is Dixon's Motion for Summary Judgment. Vickers opposes the Motion but offers no statements under oath in support of his claim. Upon consideration of the Motion and the submitted materials, the Court finds no hearing necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, Dixon's motion will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On July 8, 2016, Vickers appeared in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County for sentencing in a criminal matter. Dixon was assigned to serve as an escort court officer, responsible for providing courtroom security and escorting prisoners to and from the courtroom. Although Vickers had remained calm throughout the proceeding, when the judge imposed a sentence of ten years of imprisonment, and he was denied permission to hug his mother, he became irate. Vickers interrupted the judge twice and was twice denied permission to speak, but nevertheless insisted on expressing his discontent. As the hearing concluded, Vickers shouted profanity, presumably at the judge, and he was removed from the courtroom.

         Dixon removed Vickers from the courtroom and into a hallway leading to an elevator. The elevator connected the hallway to a series of holding cells for detainees awaiting their court proceeding.. While in the hallway, Vickers said to Dixon, "You could've let me talk to my mom, " then spat in Dixon's face. At the time, Vickers was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, so Dixon lifted up on the handcuffs, raising Vickers arms up and forcing him to bend forward so that he could not spit on anyone again. Vickers shouted repeatedly, including profanities, as he was taken down the hallway to the elevator. Dixon did not say anything because he did want the spit to run into his mouth. After putting Vickers in a holding cell, Dixon went to the sergeant's office and wiped the spit off of his face with a paper towel.

         Other sheriffs deputies on the scene that day confirmed that Vickers spat on Dixon and was acting aggressively as he was escorted down the hallway, requiring Dixon to handle him physically. According to Deputy Anthony Santavenere, who assisted in escorting Vickers away from the courtroom, Vickers became "agitated" after he was sentenced and cursed at the judge multiple times. Santavenere Statement, Mot. Summ. J. Ex. D. When Dixon escorted Vickers out, Vickers cursed at Dixon and spat on him, "hitting him in the forehead with bodily fluid/saliva." Id.

         According to Deputy Leroy Lilly:

Vickers was shouting profanities and aggressively struggling as Deputy Dixon lifted him from the floor. As Deputy Dixon did so the defendant turned his head toward Deputy Dixon and pursed his mouth as if to prepare to spit on DFC Dixon. In response to the gesture, DFC Dixon ordered him, "Don't do it, " and placed him face forward against the wall with his mouth directed away from Dixon. DFC Dixon with the assistance of at least one other unrecalled deputy then placed their arms under Vickers and began walking to elevator #2. As they proceeded, the defendant continued his resistive and recalcitrant behavior refusing to walk and moving his body violently losing a shoe due to his actions. . . . Once at the elevator the elevator was called as [Vickers] continued to struggle with DFC Dixon. The elevator doors opened and the struggling [Vickers] was brought inside. Once inside, [Vickers] continued to be loud and aggressive. Due to this behavior the handcuffed [Vickers] was placed and held against the front panel of the elevator as he continued to struggle. [Vickers] was never forcefully pushed or forced into the elevator interior by DFC Dixon or any deputy and [he] sustained no observed injuries as a result of the ... incident.

Lilly Statement, Mot. Summ. J. Ex. D.

         According to Vickers, Dixon slammed him into the hallway wall repeatedly and then, once in the elevator, slammed his head into the elevator door. Vickers alleges that he was bleeding and suffered contusions on his head, bruises on his body, and lacerations on his wrists and ankles.

         After Vickers was taken to the holding cell, he was transported to the Greater Baltimore Medical Center ("GMBC") by Deputy William Roach and Deputy Douglas Fellner. According to Fellner, while waiting with Vickers at the GMBC emergency room, Vickers stated that he "shouldn't have spit on Deputy Dixon" and that he "felt bad for doing this." Fellner Mem., Mot. Summ. J. Ex. D.

         According to GBMC medical records relating to Vickers's treatment, Vickers's only complaint to medical staff was that his wrists hurt. According to those records, he told a physician's assistant that "he was getting sentenced today when he became upset and was involved in [an] altercation with the guard, was pushed up against the wall and the cuffs on his wrist were painful." Med. Records at 8, Mot. Summ. J. Ex. E.[1] Some redness and swelling of the wrists was noted. The treating physician's assistant noted that Vickers wanted x-rays for the purpose of documenting his injury. An x-ray of Vickers's wrist revealed normal alignment and no fracture or dislocation.

         Dixon pursued criminal charges of assault against Vickers. See State v. Vickers, No. 03-K-15-006792 (Cir. Ct. Balt. Cty. 2016), available at http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/ casesearch. At the trial in that case, Dixon testified that Vickers spit in his face but that he did not assault Vickers. Santavenere testified that Vickers was enraged by his sentence, that he saw Vickers spit in Dixon's face, and that there were no further incidents with Vickers once he was taken to the ...


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