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McCoy v. IDOC Transfer Coordinator

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 21, 2018

MAX MCCOY, #R58593, Plaintiff,
v.
IDOC TRANSFER COORDINATOR, DAVID MITCHELL, LT. MENNERICH, LT. KELLY, SGT. JONES, JOHN DOE 1, and JOHN DOE 2, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL UNITED SATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Max McCoy, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center (“Pontiac”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights that allegedly occurred at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims the defendants subjected him to excessive force, failed to protect him, and violated his due process rights in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Doc. 1).

         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 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 such relief.

         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). 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 of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to allow this case to proceed past the threshold stage.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: on June 16, 2017, a staff assault occurred in Plaintiff's cell house while Plaintiff and other inmates were at the recreation gym at Menard. (Doc. 1, p. 5). While officers were escorting Plaintiff and the other inmates back to the cellblock for a lockdown, there were over a dozen officers kicking and assaulting several inmates while they were on the ground. Id. Defendant Lieutenant Mennerich then locked the front entrance of the gate and told Plaintiff and several inmates to lie on the ground. Id. Shots were fired from the guard tower, and Plaintiff and the other inmates complied. Id. While on the ground, Plaintiff watched at least twenty officers assault three inmates while they were restrained in cuffs. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6).

         Defendant Lieutenant Kelly saw Plaintiff watching the assault and asked Plaintiff what he was looking at. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Kelly approached the gate and attempted to unlock it, but Mennerich grabbed Kelly and said: “Be cool, we'll get him.” Id. Kelly then called Plaintiff a racial slur and told him to keep watching because he was next. Id. Ten to fifteen minutes later, Mennerich told Defendant Lieutenant Mitchell to open the gate and cuff Plaintiff. Id. Mitchell told Plaintiff to cuff up twice, and both times Plaintiff asked why, noting he did nothing wrong. Id. Mitchell then kicked Plaintiff in his hip area and placed his knee on Plaintiff's lower back. Id. While attempting to put restraints on him, Mitchell called Plaintiff a racial slur and yelled at him to cuff up. Id.

         Plaintiff turned over on his back and struck Mitchell in the face. Id. Plaintiff threw several more punches, but none connected with Mitchell. Id. Mitchell then punched Plaintiff in the throat, and Plaintiff lost his breath. Id. Plaintiff was cuffed and Mennerich, Kelly, and other officers began choking and kicking Plaintiff while he was restrained. Id. Plaintiff was then escorted by two officers who bent Plaintiff's hands and wrists while he was in cuffs until they reached the segregation unit. (Doc. 1, p. 7). In the segregation unit, Plaintiff was dragged up the steps upside down, and his face hit every step. Id. He was then thrown in the shower. Id. Defendant Sergeant Jones came to the shower and accused Plaintiff of enjoying assaulting lieutenants. Id. Plaintiff was taken out of the shower and taken to a cell. Id.

         Jones came to the cell and told Plaintiff: “I fucking hate you coons.” Id. He left but soon returned and asked Plaintiff if he wanted medical attention. Id. Plaintiff responded that he did, so he was cuffed, and Jones told him to walk with his body bent over and his face facing the floor. Id. While walking, Plaintiff noticed puddles of blood leading into a room. Id. When Plaintiff entered the room, Jones and several other officers “began to viciously and maliciously assault Plaintiff again.” Id. After the assault, Plaintiff was taken to his cell, where his head was rammed into his cell door. Id. Thirty minutes later, Jones returned and asked Plaintiff if he wanted medical attention. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff replied that he did, and he was taken to an area where he was able to speak with nurses and mental health personnel. Id.

         Plaintiff was then taken to another room for an interview with the sergeant of the intel investigations unit of the Internal Affairs Department (“John Doe 1”). Id. Plaintiff was read his Miranda rights, and Plaintiff refused to give a statement. Id. Plaintiff asked John Doe 1 if he could have his injuries photographed, and he responded: “You didn't make a statement, so your injuries aren't getting photographed.” Id. Plaintiff was taken back to his cell; hours later, he was transferred to Pontiac. Id. John Doe 1 “knowingly conspired to cover up the brutal assaults by his fellow officers . . . by refusing to photograph Plaintiff's injuries.” (Doc. 1, p. 13).

         Several months later, Plaintiff was charged with aggravated battery in the Randolph County Court in Chester, Illinois, for assaulting Mitchell on June 16, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 8). On December 19, 2017, the officers from Pontiac took Plaintiff to his court date and brought him back to Pontiac after court without issue. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). Plaintiff's court date was continued to February 2, 2018. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Instead of being taken to court by Pontiac officers again, on January 31, 2018, Plaintiff was scheduled for a temporary writ at Menard for a week stay. Id. On Plaintiff's court date, February 2, 2018, he was escorted out of his cell at Menard and taken to a bullpen. Id. Jones approached Plaintiff and asked, “You ready for round two, boy?” Id. He then kneed Plaintiff in his stomach and punched him several times. Id. Plaintiff was later escorted to court by Sergeant Faze, and he was returned to Pontiac on February 8, 2018. Id. The IDOC Transfer Coordinator knew there was an altercation on June 16, 2017, and sent Plaintiff to Menard for a court writ anyway, though he faced possible retaliation from staff. (Doc. 1, p. 10).

         Plaintiff seeks monetary and injunctive relief. (Doc. 1, p. 14).

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations and counts specified in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide this pro se action into seven counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The ...


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