United States District Court, D. Maryland
CATHERINE C. BLAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
William Ozah filed the above-captioned civil rights action
alleging that he was assaulted by correctional officers while
a pretrial detainee. ECF No. 1. The defendants have filed a
Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary
Judgment. ECF No. 17. Ozah filed a Response in Opposition.
ECF No. 21.
matter is now ripe for review. The court finds a hearing in
these matters unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.
Md. 2018). For the reasons that follow, the defendants'
dispositive Motion, construed as a Motion for Summary
Judgment, will be DENIED as to Defendants Fretwell, Graves
and Poole, and GRANTED as to Defendant Diedrich. Plaintiffs
Motion to Appoint Counsel, ECF No. 13, will be GRANTED.
unsworn complaint predominately concerns the use of force
that took place between him and Officers Fretwell and Graves
while Ozah was a pretrial detainee at the St. Mary's
County Detention Center (SMCDC). Unlike his complaint,
Ozah's response in opposition to the pending dispositive
motion is sworn. ECF No." 21-3.
explains that on March 22, 2018, at approximately 9:30 a.m.,
Fretwell called Ozah to receive medication. ECF No. 1, p. 8.
After Ozah received the medication, Fretwell, believing he
did not take it, called over the intercom asking Ozah for the
medication he had just received. Id. Ozah responded
that he had swallowed it. Id.
and Graves then entered the dayroom, grabbed Ozah, and gave
commands that he was to be strip searched. ECF No. 1, p. 8.
Ozah attempted to comply with the officers' commands, but
without warning, Fretwell grabbed him from behind and slammed
him to the ground, knocking him unconscious. Id.
Ozah maintains that he did not act aggressively when
approached by Fretwell and Graves. ECF No. 21, p. 5. Ozah was
then handcuffed and dragged by Graves and other unknown
officers to a back room where he was assaulted. ECF No. 1, p.
8. He was in and out of consciousness and was repeatedly
kicked and stomped by Graves and the other officers.
handcuffed behind his back, Ozah was stripped of his pants
and underwear and "sexually assaulted." ECF No. 1,
p. 8. Ozah states that "private areas of the plaintiff
were touched, lifted, and spread, without his consent in an
act of voyeurism and harassment by officers, while plaintiff
was unresponsive and in a state of unconsciousness against
his will." Id.; see also ECF No. 21, p. 3. He
was then put into a suicide gown and carried into a holding
cell. ECF No. 1, p. 8.
hours later, Ozah regained consciousness. Id. at 9.
He had injuries to his head, neck, back, and ankle.
Id. In response to his request for hospitalization,
he was taunted by Graves who also used racial slurs.
Id. Ozah was not provided lunch that afternoon, nor
was he given toilet paper. Id.
alleges that Fretwell and Graves maliciously assaulted him
with the intent to cause harm. Id. at 8. As a result
of the assault, Ozah continues to suffer from post-traumatic
stress disorder, head trauma, neck and back pain, and his
right ankle is injured. Id.
affidavit attached to his opposition response, Ozah states:
On March 22, 2018, 1 was incarcerated in the St. Mary's
County Detention center, in Leonardtown, Md. That morning I
was called by Officer Fretwell to take my medication. I was
then accused by him of not taking it and concealing it in my
hand. He came into the dorm and asked me for the medication
and I replied that I did not have it. I was then grabbed
without warning by Officer Fretwell. I put my hands in the
air not to show any signs of aggression. I was then grabbed
from behind and slammed on my head, knocking me unconscious.
I woke up being kicked, punched and in the nude with private
parts being touched. I was then knocked back into a state of
unconsciousness, later to wake up in the nude in a cell
suffering head, neck, back, and 'right ankle' pain
from injuries inflicted by officers at the St. Mary's
County Detention Center.
ECF No.21-3, p.2.
has provided portions of his medical records. Medical notes
indicate that on March 22, 2018, he was assessed at
approximately 9:40 a.m. ECF No. 21-1, p. 5. He responded to a
sternal rub and his blood pressure was elevated. Id.
He reported that his head hurt but the right side of his head
did not show anything noteworthy. Id. He was strip
searched and his vital signs were again assessed; his blood
pressure remained high at 150/82-88. Id. The notes
indicate that the responding nurse was told that Ozah
"likes to 'act' like this when has a court
date." Id. He was assessed again approximately
two hours later. Id. The provider indicated that
when they attempted the pupil reaction check, it "felt
as though [the eye lids] were being actively held shut."
submitted sick call slips on March 23, 29, April 3, and April
10, 2018, complaining of neck, ankle, and lower back pain.
ECF No. 21-1, p. 3. The notes indicate he received an x-ray
of his ankle, but the results are not provided. Id.
Additionally, on April 6, 2018, Ozah reported to medical with
a bloody nose. Id. at 5. He complained that this
head hurt, he felt dizzy, and that when he leaned forward his
nose began to bleed. Id. Ozah also provided medical
records from his current place of incarceration which reveal
he has been treated for back pain; Ozah attributes this pain
to the March 22, 2018, incident. ECF No. 21-2.
the supervisory defendants, Ozah explains that Captain
Diedrich is the Commander of Correction whose duties include
"managing the daily operation of the St. Mary's
County Detention Center." ECF No. 1, p. 5. Ozah alleges
that Diedrich violated his constitutional rights by failing
to protect him from the assault and misconduct of the
officers. ECF No. 1, p. 6.
Diedrich is in the position to set the policies on the code
of conduct for the officers, prohibit the use of excessive
force, and the proper procedures for the strip searching of
inmates to protect inmates from sexual assault. Defendant
Diedrich's negligence allowed the two defendants,
;James Fretwell #348 and CFC Graves #773, as well
as other unknown officers at this time, the opportunity to
assault, use excessive force, and sexually assault inmates
incarcerated in the Detention Center, such as the plaintiff
Id. Ozah also filed a grievance that he submitted to
Deidrich, which Diedrich denied. ECF No. 9..
C. Poole is the shift supervisor whose duties include
"managing the daily operation of the assigned shift at
the St. Mary's County Detention Center." ECF No. 1,
Defendant Sergeant C. Poole, #739 failed in her duties as the
shift supervisor, by failure to take action and allowed
officers to operate on her shift, with misconduct, Defendant
Sgt. Poole #739 knew or should have been aware that the two
defendants, James Fretwell #348 and CFC Graves #773, had
assaulted and were strip searching an unconscious inmate, the
plaintiff William Ozah.
Id. at 6. In his opposition response, Ozah notes
that Poole was present during the assault and failed to
protect him from harm by the conduct of the other officers.
in his opposition response, Ozah offers that he was accused
and criminally charged with exposing himself to a female
staff member on March 19, 2018. ECF No. 21, p. 3; see
also ECF No. 17-21; ECF No. 17-22. Ozah claims in his
opposition, for the first time, that the assault by officers
on the same shift on March 22, 2018, was in retaliation for
Ozah's prior conduct. ECF No. 21, p. 3.
relief, Ozah seeks monetary damages. ECF No. 1, p. 10 (as
amended by ECF Nos. 19, 20).
Defendants' Response and Exhibits
response to Ozah's allegations, the defendants have
submitted affidavits from Defendants Fretwell, Graves and
Poole, excerpts from Ozah's medical records, a ...