United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge
James Arthur King, Jr., who is self-represented, filed a
civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that correctional officers at Patuxent Institution
used excessive force against him, causing a broken ankle. ECF
1. Defendants Captain Lonnie Dorn, Officer Cordell Donnor,
and Officer Philip Fashola filed a motion to dismiss or for
summary judgment (ECF 15), supported by a memorandum (ECF
15-1) (collectively, the “Motion”) and several
exhibits. They assert that plaintiff's injury was due to
his own actions and not that of the officers involved.
Plaintiff opposes the motion, but does not include with his
opposition a statement under oath. ECF 18. Plaintiff and
defendants rely on video footage of the events giving rise to
this lawsuit, which has been filed with the court (ECF 16),
along with a Declaration under oath stating that plaintiff
viewed the video footage at Western Correctional Institution,
where he is now incarcerated.
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below,
defendants' Motion will be construed as one for summary
judgment and shall be granted.
about 12:20 p.m. on November 18, 2017, while plaintiff was
incarcerated at Patuxent Institution, he was asleep in his
cell when Officer Phillip Fashola awakened him by yelling at
other inmates about the television. ECF 1 at 5. Plaintiff
claims he observed that Fashola “had grabbed some old
man and put his arm around his back.” Id.
Plaintiff then heard another inmate criticize the manner in
which Fashola was running the tier (B-Wing) and that he was
“acting like a B.” Id. Fashola allegedly
responded that all of the inmates who were assigned to B-Wing
were there because the “rest of the jail don't want
to mess with [you].” Id.
then spoke up and said, “Hay [sic], let me get your
name, I'm gonna rite [sic] you up.” Id. In
response, Fashola replied, asking plaintiff for his
identification and stating that he was going to put plaintiff
on lock-up for threatening him. Id.
followed Fashola “outside to the bubble, ” told
Fashola he did not want any “problem, ” and asked
Fashola to return his identification. Id. Plaintiff
claims that Fashola then threw up his hands and said he was
not scared of plaintiff. King replied that he was not scared
of Fashola, either. Id. Fashola then called for
assistance. Id. Other correctional officers arrived,
Fashola went into the “bubble” after the inmates
in B-Wing were interviewed, and then the additional officers
left. Id. Plaintiff does not indicate why other
inmates were interviewed or the topic of the interview. In
any event, the video surveillance does not appear to depict
officers interviewing other inmates in the dorm. See
ECF 16 (video).
one hour passed, plaintiff was called into the hallway by
Officer C. Donnor. ECF 1 at 5. When plaintiff came to the
hallway he saw approximately eight correctional officers
lined up on the side of the hallway so he turned around to
leave. Id. He states that Donnor tried to stop him
from going back to B-Wing and, in so doing, slammed the door
on King's ankle, breaking his ankle. Id.
Plaintiff adds that the door was slammed so hard on
King's ankle that a screw came out of the door and
impaled the skin on plaintiff's ankle. Id. As a
result, plaintiff states he walks with a cane now and claims
he has been left in a cell without assistance for his broken
plaintiff states that Captain Lonnie Dorn contributed to his
injury because he believed “Fashola's lies on the
ticket” when Dorn was investigating Fashola's
removal from his post. Because Dorn believed what was written in
the ticket, plaintiff reasons, the “squad came back and
slam[med his] ankle in the steal door.” Id.
Plaintiff suggests that Dorn could have instead simply asked
why the “squad” did not lock plaintiff up the
first time they came to B-Wing, but instead Dorn ordered them
to go back to B-Wing and move plaintiff to lock-up.
noted, defendants have submitted with their Motion a video
recording of the incident. Unfortunately, it does not have
sound. Defendants aver that the video contradicts
plaintiff's assertion that his ankle was slammed in a
steal door by Donnor. Rather, they assert that the video
and/or exhibits establish the following relevant events, ECF
15-1 at 2-4:
Plaintiff left the dorm area and walked around the day room
for several minutes. ECF 16 at 13:51:17 through 13:53:22.
Plaintiff returned to the dorm and laid on his bed until
Fashola came to the dorm to conduct inmate count following
“chow time.” Id. at 13:53:22 through
Plaintiff left his bed and “acting belligerently,
confronted” Fashola; Fashola turned to leave the area.
Plaintiff “demanded” Fashola's “name
and information” so he could put it in an
administrative remedy procedure (“ARP”) complaint
and followed Fashola out of the dorm, “continuing to
argue” with Fashola. Id. at 13:55:27 through
After Fashola turned off the television to conduct inmate
count, plaintiff removed his shirt and “took a fighting
stance while verbally threatening” Fashola.
Id.; see ECF 15-4, ¶ 3.
Plaintiff continued to engage with Fashola “in an
agitated and belligerent manner.” ECF 16 at 13:58:00
Fashola called for assistance on his radio. Id. at
Additional correctional officers arrived to talk to
plaintiff. Id. at 13:59:57.
After approximately ten minutes, the correctional officers
left and plaintiff returned to his bunk. Id.
14:08:22 through 14:12.00.
approximately 4:00 p.m. the same day, Donnor asked plaintiff
to come to the control area (“Bubble”). ECF 15-5
(Donnor Decl., ¶¶ 3-4). Plaintiff approached the
Bubble, saw other correctional officers, turned around, and
ran back into the dorm. The officers pursued plaintiff into
the dorm. ECF 16 at 16:35:00 10. Plaintiff attempted to close
the door. ECF 15-5, ¶¶ 3-4. He is seen falling to
the floor as he attempted to enter the dorm. Plaintiff got
back up and ran into the dorm area. ECF 16 at 16:35:07.
Correctional officers followed him, cuffed him, bandaged his
wound, and placed him in a chair. Id. 16:37:40
noted, there is no sound for the video. Thus, the video does
not reflect threats or demands by plaintiff.
there is no video footage that depicts how plaintiff's
ankle was injured or who closed the door. Indeed, plaintiff
is seen walking, without assistance. Verified medical records
submitted by defendants indicate that plaintiff's ankle
bones were not broken, but an x-ray revealed that there was a
possible fracture of the hardware placed in his ankle in
connection with the repair of a previous fracture. ECF 15-8
(medical records) at 8 (x-ray report). The wound to
plaintiff's ankle, which was dressed and treated
immediately after plaintiff fell, was caused by orthopedic
hardware puncturing plaintiff's skin. Id. at 2
(initial treatment); 6 (indicating bleeding stopped quickly);
30 (orthopedic surgeon notes ...