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Thompson v. Friday

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 4, 2019




         Defendants Major Cleveland Friday and Officer Jenine Dyer[2] move to dismiss the amended complaint against them. ECF 29. Plaintiff Bryan C. Thompson has opposed the motion (ECF 33), and defendants have replied (ECF 34). No. hearing is necessary to determine the matters pending. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons stated below, the motion to dismiss shall be denied and Thompson's pending motion to appoint counsel (ECF 26) shall be denied without prejudice.[3]


         Thompson's amended civil rights complaint concerns his alleged assault by correctional officers while he was a pre-trial detainee at Baltimore City Detention Center ("BCDC"). He states that on May 19, 2017, correctional officers were called to the housing unit where he was detained in response to an "incident." Thompson went to the dayroom area where the disturbance was taking place and observed "numerous officers standing in the hallway of the dorm and control center," including gang intelligence officers, Officer Curry, Facility Administrator Nicole Jackson, Sgt. Porter, and Major Cleveland Friday. ECF 28 at 1. Thompson claims these officers were there "to talk to the inmates of dorm (H) to resolve issues at hand." Id.

         According to Thompson, the "issues" concerned living conditions including water being shut down and, when it was returned, water that was full of rust, and no working fans, televisions, telephones, or means for personal hygiene. ECF 28 at 2. He explains that the "annex building" at BCDC had been closed since 2016 as was most of the rest of BCDC, with the exception of the "J[ail] Industries] building." Id.

         A partial narrative of the May 19, 2017, incident is provided by Thompson's exhibits, which include a portion of an interoffice memorandum from Major Friday to Captain Tiffany Agent and a portion of an Intelligence and Investigation Division (IID) report. ECF 28-3 and 28-4. Friday reports that on "May 19, 2017 at approximately 1400 hours a call was made for all available officers to report to the Annex H-dorm for assistance." ECF 28-4 at 1. When officers arrived, it was discovered that one of the inmates, later identified as Renard Prioleau, shattered one of the glass panes in the officer's control center. Id. "The rest of the inmates in the dorm were not adhering to the commands of the staff to return to their bunk location. Id. Some of the inmates had fashioned shirts or pieces of bedsheets into coverings for their faces "in an attempt to hide their identities." Id. Despite that effort, Friday states he assessed the situation and "identified each inmate who was involved in the disturbance." Id. A "TAC team" was called to the area. Id.

         At 1600 hours (two hours after the incident occurred), the "regional TAC team reported to the Annex H-dorm and initiated the removal of the inmate population" to be transferred from the Annex building. Id. A total of 34 inmates were removed from the dorm; ten were transferred to Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center (MRDCC); fifteen were sent to Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI); and nine were transferred to North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI). ECF 28-4. Friday states there were six uses of force and that the "inmates who were involved in the use of force were medically cleared and transferred to [NBCI]." Id.

         The portion of the IID report included as an exhibit recounts the content of a Serious Incident Report indicating that at "approximately 1630 hours ... Thompson refused verbal orders to remove his clothing and submit to a strip search." ECF 28-3 at 1. Thompson "became aggressive and attempted to punch CO-II Kenyatta Barrett, but the officer evaded the inmate's punch and responded by punching [Thompson] multiple times in the face and body." Id. Thompson received two Notices of Infraction [("NOI")]; one for concealing his identity by tying a shirt around his face and the second for refusing an order to submit to a strip search and attempting to assault Barrett. Id. Both infractions were "dismissed, due to a lack pf supporting documents being submitted by the State." Id.

         The IID report details a September 22, 2017, interview with Thompson at NBCI, during which he recounted the assault he suffered from Sgt. Porter and others as described in the amended complaint. ECF 28-3 at 1. Thompson claimed that "he never had any interactions with CO-II Barrett and he does not know why he issued him the NOI." Id. The IID report indicates that Thompson's medical record was reviewed, and x-rays of his shoulder and jaw taken on June 21, 2017, revealed no fractures or dislocations. Id.

         Thompson claims that after the TAC team arrived and ordered people to return to their bunks, he tried to return to his bunk, but "the door to the dorm came open" and Sgt. Porter "came rushing in and .. . tackled" Thompson. ECF 28 at 2. Thompson fell to the floor and Sgt. Porter "straddled" Thompson and began punching him in the face. Id. Thompson claims he tried to block the punches by turning over on his stomach, but could not do so. The assault continued when "other officers started stomping, kicking, and punching [Thompson] in the head and body." Id.

         Thompson states that Major Friday's assertion, contained in his memorandum regarding the events, that he "assessed the situation" and "identified each inmate who was involved in the disturbance" is essentially an admission that he improperly identified Thompson as a participant. ECF 28 at 3-4, see also ECF 28-4. He states that Officer Jenine Dyer was a part of the TAC team and present during the assault on Thompson, but did not directly participate in the assault. Id. at 3. He adds that the TAC team arrived approximately one to two hours after order was already restored and under control in the dorm, obviating any need for force. Id. at 4.

         In addition to Sgt. Porter, Thompson states that Officer Dorsey, a member of the TAC team, kicked Thompson several times while he was on the ground; Officer Kenyatta Barrett punched and kicked Thompson in the head and body; Officer Smith also punched and kicked Thompson; and Sgt. Docket (now a Lieutenant at the Jessup Correctional Institution pre-trial building) intervened and ordered the assault to stop. ECF 28 at 4.

         Thompson was picked up off the ground by Officer Kenyatta Barrett and another unknown officer, who dragged Thompson by his arms "past the other dorm," causing scrapes on Thompson's knees. ECF 28 at 4. As Thompson was being dragged, he heard inmate Antoine Mayo ask why they were treating Thompson that way and Barrett answered that Mayo should shut up before he got the same treatment. Id. Thompson claims that he was then placed on his knees in the hallway and the officers went into the dorm to begin assaulting Mayo, Joseph Jennings, and other inmates. Id. All of the inmates, including Thompson, were transported to medical together; according to Thompson, Mayo received eight stitches to his chin. Id. at 5.

         Thompson and four other inmates[4] were taken to the Jail industries building for medical attention. ECF 28 at 3. Thompson was told he needed an x-ray of his head and shoulder. Id. Medical records submitted with the amended complaint indicate that Thompson's face was swollen in the area of his right jaw and nose; and he had an abrasion on his forehead and both knees. ECF 28-1 at 1. Following his medical examination, Thompson was escorted to the kitchen area in the Annex building where he was strip searched by two officers whom he does not name. ECF 28 at 3. After being strip searched, Thompson was placed in a van and transported to NBCI in Cumberland, Maryland. Id. After ...

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