United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.
Plaintiff is an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections, currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center ("Pontiac"), where he is serving two five-year sentences for burglary. He brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that he was beaten by one of the defendant guards while he was imprisoned at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), while the other defendants looked on and did nothing.
Plaintiff's complaint is refreshingly brief and to the point. He alleges that Defendant Sergeant Ealey choked, punched, kneed, kicked, slapped, and slammed him on the floor on April 25, 2014 (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff was in handcuffs the entire time. As a result of this beating, Plaintiff lost a tooth and suffered bruises, cuts, and swelling. Defendants Walters and Jones along with two other unknown correctional officers watched Defendant Ealey assault Plaintiff, but never intervened to stop the beating.
Plaintiff indicates that some disciplinary action was taken against him in connection with the incident. He gives no further detail, but states that he is not challenging any disciplinary measures in this lawsuit (Doc. 1, p. 5).
Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages from all Defendants for the beating and failure to intervene (Doc. 1, p. 6).
Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
Under § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint, and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant.
Accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds that Plaintiff has articulated the following colorable federal causes of action, which shall receive further review:
Count 1: Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against Defendant Ealey, for beating and injuring Plaintiff on April 25, 2014;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against Defendants Walters, Jones, and the two Unknown Party Correctional Officers (John Does), for failing to intervene to stop Defendant Ealey from beating Plaintiff on April 25, 2014.
The intentional use of excessive force by prison guards against an inmate without penological justification constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment and is actionable under § 1983. See Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34 (2010); DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 619 (7th Cir. 2000). An inmate must show that an assault occurred, and that "it was carried out maliciously and sadistically' rather than as part of a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline.'" Wilkins, 559 U.S. at 40 (citing Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6 (1992)).
Further, the Seventh Circuit has long recognized that a civil rights claim may be brought against officers who merely stood by and watched while another correctional officer or police officer used excessive force. Equal liability may be imposed for such a failure to intervene.
We believe it is clear that one who is given the badge of authority of a police officer may not ignore the duty imposed by his office and fail to stop other officers who summarily punish a third person in his presence or otherwise within his knowledge. That responsibility obviously obtains when the nonfeasor is a supervisory officer to whose direction misfeasor officers are committed. So, too, the same responsibility must exist as to nonsupervisory officers who are present at the scene of such summary punishment, for to hold otherwise would be to insulate nonsupervisory officers from liability for reasonably foreseeable consequences of the neglect of their duty to enforce the laws and preserve the peace.
Byrd v. Brishke,
466 F.2d 6, 11 (7th Cir. 1972); see also Lanigan v. Vill. of E. Hazel Crest, 110 F.3d 467, 477 (7th Cir. 1997); Yang v. Hardin, 37 F.3d 282, 285 (7th Cir. 1994) (collected cases); Archie ...