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Walker v. Lauderdale County

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

March 23, 2017




         On May 26, 2016, Plaintiff Quentin Walker, a/k/a Quintin Walker, (“Walker”), who is currently confined at the Pemiscot County Jail in Caruthersville, Missouri, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) The complaint addresses Walker's previous confinement while he was a pre-trial detainee at the Lauderdale County Jail (“Jail”) in Ripley, Tennessee. On June 2, 2016, the Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Lauderdale County, Officers First Name Unknown (“FNU”) Glass, Dixie Duncan, FNU Neal, FNU Geary, FNU Reed, FNU Parker, FNU Lenderman, FNU Johnson and Christy Norton. Defendants are sued in their official and individual capacities.

         I. The Complaint

         Walker alleges that on July 23, 2015, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Defendants Glass, Duncan, Neal, Geary, Reed, Parker, Lenderman, Johnson, and Norton “rushed” into Unit 1, where Walker was housed. (ECF No. 1 at 6.) Several of the Officers, including Defendants Johnson, Reed, and Norton, began conducting a “pat search” of another inmate, Judson Ouzts. (Id.) Before the search of Ouzts began, Defendant Glass, who was holding a taser throughout the encounter, motioned for Walker to come out of his area and to stay by him, and Walker obeyed. (Id. at 6-7.) Defendant Reed lost his balance after slamming Ouzts to the floor and began falling backwards into the area where Walker and Defendant Glass were standing. (Id. at 7.) Walker moved out of the way so Defendant Reed would not slam into him, but that resulted in Defendant Reed slamming into Defendant Glass and “sandwiching” Defendant Glass between Defendant Reed and the wall. (Id.)

         Defendant Reed got up and went back toward inmate Ouzts, who was on the floor with several other officers on him. (Id.) Defendant Glass, without first giving Walker any verbal orders or directives, allegedly began tasing Walker in his back and ribs on the right side. (Id.) Defendant Parker then allegedly grabbed Walker around the neck, putting Walker into a headlock and punching him in the face four or five times. (Id.) While Parker had Walker in the headlock, Defendant Glass allegedly continued to tase Walker. (Id.) Walker alleges that Defendant Johnson grabbed him around his legs, Defendant Neal also tased Walker, and Defendant Duncan sprayed Walker with mace. ( 7-8.) After Walker was sprayed with mace, the Defendants stopped applying force because they also were coughing and choking from the spray; however, Defendant Parker allegedly continued to hold Walker in the headlock until Defendant Glass said, “thats [sic] enough.” (Id. at 8.)

         Walker states he does not know whether Defendants Geary, Reed, Lenderman, or Norton actually participated in the force; however, he does allege they had the opportunity to intervene and stop the incident but failed to do so. (Id.) Further, Walker alleges he was not resisting in any way during this incident, did not provoke the use of force, and was not given any verbal orders that he refused to obey. (Id.) He states the Defendants were not trying to place him in handcuffs during the incident and did not handcuff him after the incident. (Id.)

         Immediately after the incident, Walker, inmate Ouzts and a third inmate were removed and placed in the court holding area of the Jail, in separate cells. (Id.) Approximately thirty minutes later, Defendants Glass, Duncan and Neal returned to the court holding area and asked Walker if he was hurt anywhere. (Id. at 8-9.) Walker alleges he replied that he could not breathe, his face was burning, his neck was hurting, and he wanted to get washed up, but Defendant Glass told him they would be back in a “little bit.” (Id. at 9.) After they left, Walker alleges he yelled for help because he was having trouble breathing and his face, eyes, and nose felt like they were on fire. (Id.) Walker began to vomit, allegedly due to the effects of the mace. (Id.) Other inmates also yelled for the officers to return and help Walker. (Id.) Roughly two hours after Walker was placed in the holding cell, Defendant Neal returned to put Walker's mattress and property in the cell. (Id.) Despite Walker allegedly informing Defendant Neal that his face was still burning and he was having trouble breathing, and despite that Defendant Neal noticed Walker had thrown up, Defendant Neal gave Walker the mattress and left. (Id.) Walker further alleges that he continued to tell Defendants Neal and Geary that he needed medical attention each time they walked by, but they continued to ignore him. (Id. at 9-10.) At approximately 2:30 a.m. on July 24, 2015, Defendant Geary saw Walker on the floor and that Walker had vomited and radioed for another officer to come to the cell; Defendant Geary also called an ambulance. (Id. at 10.) When the paramedics arrived, Defendant Neal told them that Walker was fine and had only been in the cell for an hour. (Id.)

         Defendant Lenderman and Mr. Duncan, the husband of Defendant Duncan, accompanied Walker to the hospital. (Id.) Walker alleges that Mr. Duncan, who is not named as a defendant, told the nurses and the doctor that Walker was fighting at the jail and that his injuries stemmed from the fight. (Id.) Walker's injuries were examined and treated, and he received a cat-scan of his skull, neck and back. (Id.) He was released from the hospital about 6:00 a.m. on July 24, 2015, and returned to the Jail. (Id.) Walker alleges that his injuries included a swollen and bruised right eye; taser burns on his ribs and back; pain in his neck, throat and lower back from the physical force; and extreme and severe burning of his face, eyes, nose and mouth from the chemical agent. (Id. at 10-11.) Walker contends that Defendants' refusal to alleviate his pain by allowing him a shower or prompt medical attention made his pain more severe. (Id. at 11.)

         Walker states that Lieutenant (“Lt.”) Elizabeth Kiestler, who is not named as a defendant, took pictures of Walker's injuries but said that she could not see taser burns on Walker's left rib area. (Id.) On July 24, 2015, Defendant Norton took pictures of the taser burn on Walker's left rib area and sent them Lt. Kiestler. (Id.) On July 28, 2015, Walker was seen by Dr. Crown, who also is not named as a defendant, at the Jail and was prescribed Ibuprofen and Tylenol. (Id.)

         Walker seeks compensatory and punitive damages for his physical and emotional injuries. (Id. at 15-16.)

         On May 26, 2016, Walker filed a motion to enforce in which he seeks to enforce an injunction issued on April 1, 1998. (ECF No. 3.) A search of the Court's records indicates that Walker likely is referring to Davis, et al. v. Sutton, et al., No. 93-2004-JPM (W.D. Tenn.), a class action suit that was filed to remedy certain constitutional deficiences at the Lauderdale County Jail. Any attempt to enforce the relief granted in the Davis matter should be filed in that case. Therefore, the motion to enforce is DENIED.

         II. Analysis

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any ...

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