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Whitfield v. Walker

September 19, 2007

BENYEHUDAH WHITFIELD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROGER E. WALKER ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge

Order

On February 23, 2007, summary judgment was entered in favor of Defendants on all of Plaintiff's claims, except for his Eighth Amendment claims arising from a tactical team's ("tact team") cell extraction on September 18, 2003 and subsequent strip search. For the reasons below, the court grants summary judgment on that claim as well, terminating this case.

Summary Judgment Standard

A party moving for summary judgment must show, from the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, . . ." that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the "moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001), citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986);Fed. R. Civ. P.56(c). This burden can be satisfied by "'showing'--that is, pointing out to the district court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If such a showing is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 837. A nonmoving party cannot rest on its pleadings, but must demonstrate that there is admissible evidence that will support its position. Tolle v. Carroll Touch, Inc., 23 F.3d 174, 178 (7th Cir. 1994).

In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Beraha v. Baxter Health Corp., 956 F.2d 1436, 1440 (7th Cir. 1992). The question is " . . . whether a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the plaintiff on the evidence presented." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986).

Undisputed Facts*fn1

1. Plaintiff was incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center on September 18, 2003. That morning, Correctional Officer Thomas came to Plaintiff's cell and directed Plaintiff to come to the door of his cell to be restrained so that Plaintiff could be taken to the "B of I" (Bureau of Identification).

2. According to a disciplinary report later written by Officer Thomas, Plaintiff replied "Fuck you, Bitch, I'm not going anywhere." Officer Thomas then gave Plaintiff a direct order to cuff up, but Plaintiff refused and said, "Come in here and get me. I'll kill one of you, motherfuckers." Officer Thomas then left, presumably to call in the tact team. Later that day (September 18, 2003), Officer Thomas wrote Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket based on the incident, charging Plaintiff with intimidation and threats and refusing a direct order. The Adjustment Committee found Plaintiff guilty of both based on Thomas' description of the incident. (d/e 231, Ex. 3; Ex. 4 (ARB decision)). The Committee recommended Plaintiff receive a revocation of six months good conduct credit. Plaintiff was also transferred to a higher security prison, received six months of segregation , 6 months C grade and 3 months loss of privileges. (d/e 235, p. 5, para. 1). The Warden or his designee signed off on the recommendation. Plaintiff had a hearing by video before the Administrative Review Board on November 13, 2003; the Board upheld the punishment. (Exhibit 4).

3. Plaintiff describes the tact team cell extraction and strip search on September 18, 2003, as follows:

After I was returned to my cell [on the morning of September 18, 2003], I fell asleep and was awaken [sic] by (who has been identified as) Defendant Thomas, who advised me that he was there to take me to B of I and to come to the door so I could cuff up. However, due to the [fact] that I was extremely exhausted and not fully conscious of what was going on, although somewhat awaken, I failed to comply with Defendant Thomas's order, but I never made any threatening statements.*fn2 After Defendant Thomas left, I did become fully conscious and realized that I had refused to comply with the orders . . , and I immediately got out of bed, got dressed and waited, hoping he would return so I could explain myself, however, a tact team member came to my door instead, with a vidio [sic] recorder and pointed it at me. I told the tact team member that a mistake had been made and that I was ready to comply to cuff up and be taken to B of I. . . . I made repeated requests to open my chuck hole so I could cuff up . . . When I saw that the tact team was about to come in and they used the pepper spray, I turned my back to them (or away from the door) and took a few steps towards the front of my cell and put my hands behind my head and got down on my knees. The tact team bust[ed] into my cell, started hitting and kicking me, as I layed [sic] on the floor. As I layed on the floor, being hit, someone was using some sort of object (or perhaps their [k]nuckle) to apply pressure to the back base of my skull that was absolutely excruciating. Throughout the entire incident, I never resisted in any way. I was then taken to an open*fn3 area and placed in a holding cell . . . I was ordered to remove all my clothes and to comply with a strip search, which included a visual of my anal cavity and groin area. During the entire strip search, the entire tact team was present, along with the attending (female) nurse, Defendant(s) Melvin, Mitchell, Pritchard, Ruiz (another female staff) and several other correctional staff members; all of whom just stood and watched as I complied with the strip search. Prior to being placed in the holding cell, where I was forced to comply with the strip search, I was taken to a janitor's closet where one of the tact team members used a water hose to pretend as if he was rinsing my face, but, although water did come in contact with my face, the water was shooting up my nose, and I felt as if I was drowning. I was not permitted to rinse the rest of my body or have it rinsed. After the strip search, I was given another jump suit, was hand-cuffed and shackled again and taken to the B of I, where I was fingerprinted and took a mug shot. Shortly afterwards, I was placed in a transfer vehical [sic] and transported to the Pontiac Correctional Center.*fn4 (d/e 147, pp. 56-58).

4. C/O Mike Knisley was a member of the tact team that extracted Plaintiff from his cell on September 18, 2003. (Knisley Affidavit)*fn5 . Knisley took the videotape of the incident.

5. C/O Knisley reviewed the videotape at the request of the Attorney General's Office. (Knisley Affidavit).

6. C/O Knisley began filming before the tactical team made it to Plaintiff's cell, but turned the camera off and repositioned himself when the team arrived to get a ...


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