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Barnes v. Peebles

June 15, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbert, District Judge


Plaintiff George L. Barnes, an inmate in the Marion County Jail, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007).


On May 27, 2007, Barnes was walking to friend Zadie Sharkey's apartment when Barnes was stopped by Defendant Michael Peebles. Peebles searched Barnes and requested identification, which was provided. The identification information was processed through the Centralia Police Department, providing Peebles with Barnes's record, which was clear. Peebles allegedly became upset by this, and so struck Barnes on the right side of the face with a police-issue flashlight, causing Barnes to fear for his life as well as knocking one of Barnes's teeth loose. Barnes proceeded to flee after the physical altercation, with Defendant James in pursuit threatening to discharge his weapon if Barnes continued to run. At this point Barnes spotted his fiancée in a vehicle within viewing distance, and thus stopped running in the view that the fiancée would be able to witness the harassment.

Once Barnes stopped running, he proceeded to lay on the ground where he stood so that the pursuing s could reach him. When James reached Barnes, he allegedly sprayed Barnes with mace in the eyes, ears, and mouth while striking Barnes's face with a fist. Peebles then allegedly began kicking Barnes in the head, and ceased once Barnes called out to his nearby fiancée. Barnes was then placed in a police custody vehicle to be transported.

While in transport to the Marion County Jail, Peebles and James allegedly refused to provide Barnes with medical treatment for the injuries suffered. Upon reaching the jail, Barnes was taken to booking, where booking agent Grey observed the injuries and related the injuries to Defendant Robert Demitra so as to provide Barnes with medical treatment. Demitra allegedly refused to comply with this request, and Barnes was not given access to medical treatment for his entire stay thus far at Marion County Jail. Barnes now seeks $2,000,000 in damages, permanent removal from duty for Michael Peebles and Sergeant James, and two-week temporary unpaid removal from duty for Robert Demitra.


Barnes claims first that Peebles and James used excessive force while taking him into custody. Claims of excessive force during an arrest are analyzed under the Fourth Amendment's "reasonableness" standard. See Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989). In determining the reasonableness of the force used, a Court will consider the facts and circumstances of the case, the severity of the crime at issue, the threat posed by the suspect to the safety of the s or others, and whether the suspect was attempting to resist or evade arrest. The objective reasonableness of the Defendants' response will be based upon the information the Defendants had at the time of the arrest. See Lawrence v. Kenosha County, 391 F.3d 837, 843 (7th Cir. 2004). Based on these standards, Plaintiff's claims of excessive force during his arrest cannot be dismissed at this time.

Barnes next claims that he was denied necessary medical treatment in response to the injuries he ...

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