United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge
Buster Lacour, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings
this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(Doc. 11). According to the First Amended Complaint,
Plaintiff was beaten by prison guards at Menard on March 15,
2017. (Doc. 11, pp. 1-35). The officials allegedly attempted
to cover up their misconduct by charging Plaintiff with
numerous prison rule violations and punishing him with
disciplinary segregation. Id. He now claims that
they conspired to violate his rights under the First, Eighth,
and Fourteenth Amendments and Illinois state law.
Id. Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment, monetary
damages, and injunctive relief. (Doc. 11, pp. 35-37; Doc.
case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the
First Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A,
(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
officer 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
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). Frivolousness is an
objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable
person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209
F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). 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, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of
entitlement to relief must cross “the line between
possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At
this juncture, the factual allegations in the pro se
complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v.
Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir.
2009). The First Amended Complaint survives screening.
describes himself as a seriously mentally ill (SMI) inmate,
who should not be housed in isolation due to his condition.
(Doc. 11, p. 5). Even so, he was placed in protective custody
from March 1 - 15, 2017, and from June 22 - July 13, 2017.
Id. He was also punished with disciplinary
segregation from March 15 - June 15, 2017. (Doc. 11, pp. 12,
16). With the exception of one week, he remained confined in
isolation from March 1 - July 13, 2017. Id.
to prison policy, inmates held in isolation are allowed no
movement outside of their cells, except for showers, medical
call passes, scheduled mental health meetings, and
visitations. (Doc. 11, p. 5). Pursuant to this policy,
Plaintiff was denied time outside of his cell. (Doc. 11, pp.
5-6). He claims that the conditions of his confinement caused
him to become depressed and resulted in the incident
described herein. (Doc. 11, p. 7).
March 15, 2017, Officer Hennrich approached Plaintiff's
cell, requested his identification card, and demanded to see
his mirror. (Doc. 11, p. 7). Plaintiff asked to know why, and
Hennrich said, “I saw your broken mirror sticking out
of your cell bars.” Id. Plaintiff told the
officer that he was mistaken and must be at the “wrong
cell” because his mirror was brand new. Id.
left and returned minutes later with Lieutenant Fricke,
Sergeant Crain, and Officer Duckworth. (Doc. 11, pp. 7-8).
Fricke ordered Plaintiff to “cuff up.” (Doc. 11,
p. 8). Plaintiff asked him to explain why. Id.
Fricke responded, “[Y]our [sic] going to N2 seg.”
Id. Plaintiff described his response as follows:
“Plaintiff, feeling some type of way, due to this
defendant's unreasonable request, asked for a crisis
team, and informed defendant, Fricke that he was on psych
medication, he needs his meds because he was going through
it.” Id. Fricke then asked Plaintiff whether
he was refusing to cuff up. Id. Before Plaintiff
answered, Fricke, Crain, Duckworth, and Hennrich left the
later, they returned with Major Ebonie and Officer Harvey.
(Doc. 11, p. 8). The officers again ordered Plaintiff to
“cuff up.” Id. When he repeated his
request for a crisis team and medication, Ebonie responded,
“No. Cuff up now!” Id. At this point,
the defendants appeared aggravated, so Plaintiff replied,
“I'll cuff up but, [sic] I aint [sic] trying to get
beat up.” (Doc. 11, pp. 8-9). He agreed to cuff up a
“few minutes” later. (Doc. 11, p. 9).
as the cuffs were secure, Ebonie and Fricke snatched
Plaintiff by his neck, pushed the back of his head down
“hard and fast, ” and rushed him out of the back
door of the gallery into a hallway that divides the N1 and N2
Cell Houses. (Doc. 11, p. 9). Fricke then slammed
Plaintiff's head into the mailboxes and began punching
him in the chest. Id. At the same time, Fricke
yelled, “[W]hen I tell you to cuff up, bitch, you cuff
up!” Id. While still in the hallway, Ebonie,
Fricke, and Crain were joined by the Orange Crush Tactical
Team. Id. Together, they “beat
[P]laintiff about the body, slammed his head into the wall,
and continued to violently assault him.” Id.
As they did so, Ebonie said, “Bitch you do what I
sustained numerous injuries during the beating that required
medical attention. (Doc. 11, p. 10). His forehead was
bleeding, and his eye was swollen shut. Id. He was
taken to the health care unit (HCU). Id.
being treated, the Orange Crush Tactical Team “snatched
him back out of the HCU.” (Doc. 11, p. 10). As he
screamed and cried in pain, an unknown member of the team
warned him to “shut your mouth” and “dont
say shit bitch [sic].” Id. The team then
dragged Plaintiff on the pavement to segregation in the
prison's N2 Cell House. Id. He was taken
upstairs into a secluded area, where he was beaten a second
time. Id. This time, the team hit Plaintiff in the
back of his head and chest and then slammed his head into the
wall. Id. When Plaintiff complained of pain, the
team stripped him of his shoes and clothing and disposed of
it all. Id. The team then dragged Plaintiff down the
gallery and placed him into Cell 46 “naked and
battered.” (Doc. 11, p. 11). Inmates in surrounding
cells called out to Plaintiff to make sure he was okay.
Id. Unable to summon the energy to explain what
happened, he simply said, “[T]hey jumped me, i'm
[sic] losing consciousness.” Id.
Plaintiff regained consciousness, he was sitting in a chair
“all beat up and bleeding.” (Doc. 11, p. 11). All
of the previously identified defendants, including Ebonie,
were in the room. Id. They began questioning
Plaintiff about why he had harmed himself. Id.
Plaintiff stated, “[Y]a'll jumped me.”
Id. Defendants placed Plaintiff on suicide watch.
following day, Plaintiff saw a mental health professional
(MHP), MHP Weatherfur, who asked him what happened. (Doc. 11,
p. 12). Plaintiff told Weatherfur about the incident.
Id. Weatherfur notified internal affairs (IA).
Id. The same day, IA officers met with Plaintiff,
took his statement, and photographed his injuries.
March 21, 2017, Lieutenant Shaunbach also interviewed Plaintiff
and took his statement. (Doc. 11, p. 12). Following the
investigation, Plaintiff was issued three disciplinary
tickets, for which he received three months of disciplinary
segregation that ended on June 15, 2017. (Doc. 11, pp. 12,
16). He was demoted to C-grade status on March 22, 2017, and
promoted to B-grade status on June 22, 2017. (Doc.11, pp. 16,
served his three months of disciplinary segregation in
Menard's N2 Cell House (Cell 14 in Gallery 4). (Doc. 11,
p. 12). He was denied all medical treatment for his injuries.
Id. He was “continuously” harassed by
“other c/o's, acting in concert with defendants,
through a meeting of the minds.” Id. Plaintiff
identifies Mendoza as one of these defendants but does not
describe the retaliatory actions taken against him by this
defendant. (Doc. 11, p. 13). Plaintiff, along with other
inmates, filed multiple grievances to complain of the
“constant harassment.” Id.
however, it only got worse. (Doc. 11, p. 13). Staff disposed
of or delayed responses to Plaintiff's grievance(s)
addressing the assault. Id. For more than a month,
he received no mail from his family or friends. (Doc. 11, p.
15). The prison law library never sent him confirmation that
his amended complaint was timely filed in June, prompting him
to request an extension of the deadline. (Doc. 11, pp.
14-15). Duckworth also conducted a cell shakedown and
“tore up” Plaintiff's sheets on July 23,
2017. (Doc. 11, p. 21 at n.3).
after he was promoted to B-grade status on June 22, 2017,
Plaintiff was subject to “new” rules governing
the administrative of discipline that took effect on April 1,
2017. (Doc. 11, pp. 16-18) (citing 20 Ill. Admin. Code.
§ 504.130(a)(2)). Plaintiff maintains that he was
subject to the new rules only because the adjustment
committee delayed the issuance of its final disciplinary
report by twenty-three days, i.e., until April 14,
2017. (Doc. 11, pp. 19-20). The rules imposed harsher
restrictions on inmate privileges. (Doc. 11, pp. 16-20).
Specifically, Plaintiff was subject to phone and commissary
restrictions that he challenged by writing Counselor Price
and the warden. (Doc. 11, p. 20). He received no response.
Id. He was also denied grievance forms by various
prison staff members throughout this same time period,
including Ebonie, Crain, Fricke, Mendoza, Harvey, Duckworth,
and Hennrich. (Doc. 11, pp. 6, 20). Plaintiff claims that the
new rules regarding B-grade restrictions violate his
Fourteenth Amendment rights and the Illinois Constitution.
(Doc. 11, pp. 16-18, 20).
generally alleges that the conditions of his confinement at
Menard have had an adverse psychological effect on him. (Doc.
11, p. 21). He suffers from “extreme paranoia and
attention deficit disorder.” Id. He expresses
concern that he “may” become incompetent.
Id. Even so, he was removed from SMI status without
a hearing requiring his presence. Id.
facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in
this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 8(e) and 10(b), the Court has
reorganized the claims in Plaintiff's pro se
First Amended Complaint into the following enumerated counts:
Count 1 - Eighth Amendment excessive force
claim against Ebonie, Fricke, and Crain for beating Plaintiff
on March 15, 2017.
Count 2 - Eighth Amendment claim against
Duckworth, Harvey, and Hennrich for failing to intervene and
protect Plaintiff as he was beaten by prison officials on
March 15, 2017.
Count 3 - Eighth Amendment claim against
Ebonie, Fricke, Crain, Duckworth, Harvey, and Hennrich for
failing to ensure that Plaintiff received medical care for
the injuries he sustained on March 15, 2017.
Count 4 - Eighth Amendment claim against
Ebonie, Fricke, Crain, Duckworth, Harvey, and Hennrich for
ignoring Plaintiff's request for a crisis team on March
Count 5 - Claim against Defendants for
placing Plaintiff, who is a seriously mentally ill (SMI)
inmate, in segregation for prolonged periods of time without
privileges or access to out-of-cell time, in violation of the
First Amendment, the settlement agreement in Rasho v.
Baldwin, and Illinois state law.
Count 6 - Eighth and/or Fourteenth Amendment
claim against Defendants for removing Plaintiff from SMI
Count 7 - Fourteenth Amendment claim against
Defendants for depriving Plaintiff of a protected liberty
interest without due process of law by punishing him with
three months of segregation for three disciplinary tickets ...