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Rice v. Brittany Distance

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 11, 2018

JAMAHL RICE, Plaintiff
v.
BRITTANY DISTANCE, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jamahl Rice filed this civil rights against Defendant Brittany Distance, claiming that she used excessive force against him and violated his due process rights. ECF No. 1. Defendant has filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 26, and Plaintiff has responded, ECF No. 31. The Motion is now ripe for review. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motion in part and deny the Motion in part.

         BACKGROUND

         A. Plaintiffs Allegations

         In his unsworn Complaint, Plaintiff states that,

On [October 27, 2017] at 10:45 am[, ] I[, ] Jamahl Rice asked officer Brittany Distance if I could use the inmate telephone. She told me there was none open at the time which was not the truth because I had the phones in my eye sight, so I asked her again a[nd] this time she cursed at me stating "you heard what I fucking said[.]" So I proceeded to walk out of my dorm toward the payphone[.] At this time she hit me in the back of my head with her radio c[au]sing me to lo[]se balance and fall on the floor. I was unable to catch myself d[ue] to me wearing two slings for shoulder injuries. She then called a signal 13 which is assault on an officer, and I was given an infraction ... [for] assault on an officer. There was a male officer on the hospital floor working with officer Distance, at no time did she ask this officer for assistance. ... I had on two arm slings because my left shoulder was dislocated and my right shoulder was recovering.

ECF No. 1 at 2-3 (some capitalization altered). Plaintiff reports that his right shoulder was dislocated as a consequence of the fall. Id. at 3. Plaintiff states the infraction notice for assaulting an officer was false, but that he was nonetheless punished for the infraction, by having 240 days of good time credit revoked, being deprived of various privileges, and being placed on segregation housing. Id. at 3. Plaintiff requests monetary damages for Defendant's use of excessive force and asks that the punishments imposed as a consequence of the infraction be rescinded. Id. at 3-4.

         B. Defendant's Response

         In Response to Plaintiffs Complaint, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 26. Accompanying the Motion are Defendant's affidavit regarding the incident and various reports about the incident prepared by employees of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, including a report in response to Plaintiffs complaint to the Intelligence and Investigative Division that Defendant assaulted him. ECF Nos. 26-2, 26-3, 26-4.

         Although she acknowledges using force against Plaintiff, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs Complaint is without merit because the force was not excessive under the situation. She avers that

On October 27, 2017, I was assigned to the 3rd floor hospital [at Metropolitan Transition Center]. As I was conducting rounds on the floor, I heard a banging coming from the window of room #310, which housed Mr. Rice. After reaching the room to investigate, I opened the door and Mr. Rice asked to use the telephone. I advised him that both phones were currently in use and that he would have to wait. I ordered Mr. Rice to step away from the door; however, he refused replying "I don't give a Fuck." Using his left hand, Mr. Rice aggressively pushed my right should[er] causing me to stumble backwards. Fearing for my safety, I used my radio to call a signal 13, Officer Needs Assistance, meanwhile Mr. Rice continued to advance toward me. As a means of self-defense, I struck Mr. Rice in the head with my assigned radio. Mr. Rice jumped back as Corporal Carlton Simmons responded to the scene.
. ... I did not physically touch Mr. Rice on October 27, 2017 before he assaulted me and I did not push him. . .. Mr. Rice did not fall on the floor at any time and he was not wearing a sling on both arms. He had one sling on during the incident.

ECF No. 26-2 at 2-3.

         Simmons escorted Plaintiff from the scene and "to the Dispensary for treatment and evaluation." Id; ECF No. 26-3 at 4. Plaintiff was evaluated by a doctor the same day. ECF No. 26-3 at 8. Plaintiff informed the doctor that a correctional officer pulled his right arm and dislocated it. Id. Accordingly, the doctor ordered that Plaintiff undergo an x-ray of his right shoulder; the x-ray revealed that there was "no acute dislocation" of the shoulder, ...


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