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Collins v. Campbell

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 23, 2019

DeJESUS COLLINS, #366-774, Plaintiff


          James K. Bredar Chief Judge.

         Self-represented Plaintiff DeJesus Collins, a State prisoner incarcerated at Jessup Correctional Institution in Jessup, Maryland (“JCI”), filed an unverified[2] Complaint, as supplemented, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Collins seeks money damages[3] against Correctional Defendants Warden Casey Campbell and Officer Kevin Williams for an alleged assault occurring on January 18, 2018. Collins also seeks damages against Medical Defendant Ayoku Okentunji, for denial of medical care following the assault.

         Now pending is an unopposed[4] Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Correctional Defendants Campbell and Williams. ECF No. 19.[5] For the reasons stated below, Defendants' dispositive motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, [6] IS GRANTED.


         A. Plaintiff Collins's Allegations

         Collins states that around 11:30 a.m. on January 18, 2018, he was “slam[med] and beaten in the head” by Defendant Williams after Williams “forced” him into the cell. ECF 3, pp. 2, 4-5. He alleges that Williams then wrote a false notice of infraction against him, claiming Collins instigated the incident by assaulting prisoner Ryan Howard, who already was housed in the cell. ECF No. 3, p. 5. Collins states that although nearly unconscious, he heard Officer Latasha Barrett telling Williams to “stop you gonna kill him.” ECF No. 3, p. 6. Collins claims that his face was bleeding on both sides (ECF No. 3, p. 6), and that in addition to “Crohns disease, chronic abdominal pain, [ . . .] traumatic brain injury and lumbar injury” he suffered in the past (ECF No. 1, p. 1), he now suffers from “irreparable injury my back, legs, head, stomach, ” cannot “walk at all, ” and has frequent “ongoing pain...from the assault.” ECF 3, p. 3.

         B. Defendants' Assertions

         Defendants assert the incident occurred on the morning of January 19, 2018. ECF No. 19-2, p. 2, Campbell Memorandum of February 1, 2019. On that day, Williams was assigned to Collins's housing unit to escort prisoners for any out-of-cell activity, including cell transfers. ECF No. 19-3, Declaration of Corporal Kevin Williams, ¶ 3. Collins was scheduled to be transferred from his cell to disciplinary segregation within the same housing unit after he refused to accept a cell mate. Id., ¶ 4. Prior to the transfer, personnel at the Control Center confirmed with Williams that Collins was not designated for single-cell placement and could be housed with another prisoner in disciplinary segregation. Id.

         As Williams and Collins approached the segregation cell where Ryan Howard already was housed, Collins refused to be double-celled because Collins needed to sleep on a bottom bunk. ECF No. 19-2, Use of Force Summary, p. 6. Williams then stepped into the cell to help Howard move his property to the top bunk. Id. Once the bottom bunk was clear, Williams stepped out of the cell. Id. Collins then stepped into the cell and attacked Howard with his fists. Id., Notice of Inmate Rule Violation, p. 22. Three other officers present at the cell as well as Howard provided written statements that they witnessed Collins attack Howard. Id., pp. 6, 11, 13, 19.

         Williams and two other officers ordered both Collins and Howard to stop fighting. Id., pp. 6, 11, 13. Howard gave no resistance once Williams pulled Collins away from him by grabbing Collins from the waist and taking him to the floor. ECF No. 19-3, ¶ 6; ECF No. 19-2, pp. 6, 22. Collins continued to struggle until handcuffed by another officers. ECF No. 19-2, pp. 22. Both Collins and Howard were escorted to the medical unit. Id. Video footage of the incident is attached as ECF No. 19-5; ECF No. 19-2, p. 6.[7]

         Collins was treated for two contusions to his head and lacerations to his upper eyebrow. ECF No. 19-4, p. 2. He told the nurse that he was “locked in a cell with a cell body [sic] and because he did not want a cell body [sic] he swung on him and the officers slammed him on the floor.” Id. Collins complained of a headache and received Tylenol and a cold compress, and a follow-up medical visit for further assessment later in the day was ordered. Id. He was treated for facial lacerations later the same day. Id., 3.

         In the month following the incident, Collins visited the medical and psychology units at JCI, receiving two x-rays and other examinations for complaints regarding injuries received in the incident as well as follow-up chronic care treatment for unrelated medical conditions. Id., pp. 5-55.

         In his January 19, 2018, statement provided for the Use of Force investigation, Williams under oath avers that he did not slam Collins to the floor or repeatedly hit him on the head. Id. at ¶¶ 5, 6. Williams also filed, under oath, a Notice of Inmate Rule Violation charging Collins with five rule violations: Rule 100 (engaging in disruptive act); Rule 102 (assault on inmate); Rule 312 (interfering with officer duty); Rule 400 (disobeying order); and Rule 401 (refusing to accept housing assignment). ECF 19-2, p. 30. At his hearing, Collins pleaded not guilty and testified that Howard was not injured, that Collins was never taken to the medical unit or the hospital, and that Collins was the only person assaulted. Id., p. 34. The hearing officer reviewed the Use of Force, Notice of Rule Violation, and other testimony as credible and found Collins guilty of violating Rules 100, 102, 400, and 401. Id., p. 35. Collins received a segregation sentence and good conduct credits were revoked. Id., p. 36.

         Applicable ...

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