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Octavia Earl v. Kankakee County Correctional Officers Carpintero

November 16, 2011

OCTAVIA EARL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
KANKAKEE COUNTY CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS CARPINTERO, EMMERSON, HERTZ, LESAGE, AND LELAND DYER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY Chief U.S. District Judge

E-FILED Wednesday, 16 November, 2011 11:12:57 AM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

This case is before the court for ruling on the Motion for Summary Judgment (#26) filed by Defendants, Tina Carpintero,*fn1 Emerson Rushing,*fn2 Charles Hertz, Justin LeSage and Leland Dyer. This court has carefully considered the arguments of the parties and the exhibits filed. Following this careful and thorough consideration, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (#26) is GRANTED.

FACTS*fn3

On December 25, 2008, shortly after midnight, Plaintiff, Octavia Earl, and her boyfriend, Quintin Williams, returned to the home they shared in Kankakee, Illinois. They were arguing and the argument escalated when they returned home. Plaintiff asked her son to call the police and he did so. Plaintiff consumed at least one beer before the argument and was drinking a beer when the police arrived. The police officers arrested Plaintiff and transported her to the Jerome Combs Detention Center (JCDC).*fn4 Officer Melvina Calvin escorted Plaintiff out of the squad car and into the booking area of JCDC.

The security camera in the pat down area of booking at JCDC records only video (no audio) on a DV-R when there is a significant change in pixalation in the frame, or in other words, when there is enough movement in the camera's field of vision to change a certain percentage of the pixalation. The security camera in the pat down area of booking began recording at 2:25 a.m. on December 25, 2008, and recorded all significant movements of the individuals until 2:38 a.m. The security video has a valid watermark and has not been altered in any way.

Correctional Officer Carpintero was called to booking to do a pat down search of Plaintiff because JCDC standard procedures require a female officer do the pat down of a female detainee when possible. When she arrived in booking, Carpintero went into the pat down area and saw Plaintiff, Correctional Officer Rushing, and Calvin. Carpintero observed Plaintiff speaking loudly and in a boisterous manner to Calvin, who was completing paperwork for Plaintiff's booking. Carpintero believed Plaintiff was intoxicated based upon Plaintiff's belligerent behavior and the smell of alcohol on her breath. Calvin also believed Plaintiff was intoxicated and observed Plaintiff being belligerent and loud. Carpintero got the supplies necessary to do a pat down search and to secure Plaintiff's property.

Carpintero approached Plaintiff and told her that she was going to conduct a pat down search. Carpintero then began to pat down the front of Plaintiff's body while she was still in handcuffs. Correctional Officer LeSage entered the pat down area of booking and sat down in a chair on the side of the room. The security camera stopped recording for 13 seconds between 2:27:28 and 2:27:41 a.m. because there was no significant movement in the room. Carpintero began removing Plaintiff's handcuffs to do a more thorough search of Plaintiff's person and ordered Plaintiff to put her hands on the counter. Once one arm was free of the handcuffs, Plaintiff began striking the counter with her freed hand. At the time, Carpintero believed that Plaintiff was a threat because she wanted to fight and was intoxicated. The security camera stopped recording for 42 seconds between 2:28:57 and 2:29:39 a.m. because there was no significant movement in the room.

Carpintero ordered Plaintiff to take her rings off and provided her with hand sanitizer to assist in removing them. Plaintiff could not get one of the rings off, and Carpintero assisted Plaintiff in removing it. The security camera stopped recording for 8 seconds because there was no significant movement in the video screen. During her deposition, Plaintiff testified that Carpintero punched her on the right side of her face multiple times after removing her ring, but the security camera does not show any punches or blows.

Carpintero patted down the back of Plaintiff's jacket and asked Plaintiff to remove it at least once. Carpintero removed Plaintiff's jacket when Plaintiff did not comply with the order. Carpintero ordered Plaintiff to "turn around; don't look at me" at least once. Calvin recalled Plaintiff refusing to obey orders to keep her hands on the counter multiple times. Plaintiff refused to comply with Carpintero's order to face forward and turned around several times. Carpintero pushed Plaintiff's head forward with an open palm to keep her facing away from Carpintero. Correctional Officers Hertz and Dyer then arrived at the pat-down area. LeSage, Hertz and Dyer testified that they thought Plaintiff, through her verbal and physical conduct, posed a threat to their safety and the safety of the jail.

Carpintero testified that, throughout the booking process, she believed that Plaintiff posed a threat to her safety because she was belligerent, intoxicated and stated that "she was going to do something." Plaintiff has disputed this fact, arguing that Carpintero's testimony is belied by the fact that Carpintero removed Plaintiff's handcuffs. Carpintero continued the pat down search, and Plaintiff continued to turn towards Carpintero and move her body backwards into Carpintero. Carpintero pushed Plaintiff's head forward so she could safely finish the pat down search. Once Plaintiff kept her head and body facing forward, Carpintero finished patting Plaintiff down. While Carpintero searched Plaintiff's pants, Plaintiff banged her hands on the counter. Carpintero then stepped back and ordered Plaintiff to remove her boots at least twice. Dyer testified that it is important to have detainees remove their shoes or boots during a pat down search so that the officers can make sure they are not hiding any contraband, such as weapons or drugs, in their shoes or boots. When detainees smuggle contraband into JCDC, it is common for them to hide the contraband in their shoes or boots.

Plaintiff refused the order to take off her boots and then told Carpintero to take them off for her. Carpintero turned toward Hertz and requested his taser. She asked for the taser with the prongs removed which allowed the taser to be used in the drive-stun mode. Carpintero testified that she was trained and certified in taser use and authorized to carry and use a taser at JCDC. Plaintiff has disputed this fact because Carpintero's certification was dated March 3, 2006, and stated that it was good for one year. Hertz handed Carpintero the taser on his belt. Carpintero pointed the taser at Plaintiff and gave Plaintiff at least one more order to take off her boots. Carpintero testified that she placed the taser on Plaintiff's back and told Plaintiff that she would get tased if she did not comply with the order. Plaintiff did not comply with the order and Carpintero deployed the taser in drive-stun mode against Plaintiff. Once a taser is activated, it remains active for a five second cycle and taking a finger off the trigger does not de-activate it during the five second period.

Plaintiff fell back from the taser and slid to the floor. Rushing guided Plaintiff's head to the floor. When Plaintiff fell back, she broke contact with the taser and Carpintero moved forward to re-establish contact. Carpintero used the taser only once. After the taser was used, Plaintiff stood up and complied with Carpintero's order to remove her boots. Carpintero kept the taser pointed at Plaintiff while she removed her boots and kicked one of the boots across the room. Carpintero returned the taser to Hertz and patted down Plaintiff's feet, finishing the search without incident. Plaintiff was then taken to a cell. According to Defendants, neither Carpintero nor any other officer ever punched, hit, kicked or otherwise struck Plaintiff during the entire search. Plaintiff has disputed the portion of this statement ...


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