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Sweeney v. Sexton

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

July 17, 2017

TEROS A. SWEENEY, Plaintiff,



         Before the Court are a pro se prisoner's civil rights complaint filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, his application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and a supplement to the application [Docs. 1-2, 6]. It appears from the application and supplement that Plaintiff lacks sufficient financial resources to pay the $350.00 filing fee all at once. Therefore, Plaintiff's application is GRANTED [Doc. 1] and he is permitted to file this case without prepayment of the fee.

         I. FILING FEE

         However, because Plaintiff is an inmate in the West Tennessee State Penitentiary (“WTSP”) in Henning, Tennessee, he is ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00. McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997) (“Prisoners are no longer entitled to a waiver of fees and costs.”), partially overruled on other grounds by LaFountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013).

         The custodian of Plaintiff's inmate trust account at the WTSP is DIRECTED to submit to the Clerk of Court, as an initial partial payment, twenty percent (20%) of the greater of either the average monthly deposits or the average monthly balance in the account for the six (6) months immediately preceding the filing of the complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). After the initial partial filing fee is paid, the custodian shall submit twenty percent (20%) of Plaintiff's preceding monthly income credited to the account, but only when the amount in the account exceeds ten dollars ($10), until the full $350 fee has been paid to the Clerk of Court. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). Payments should be mailed to: Clerk's Office, USDC; 220 West Depot Street, Suite 200; Greeneville, TN 37743.

         The Clerk is DIRECTED to send a copy of this Order to the custodian of inmate accounts at WTSP to ensure compliance with these fee-assessment procedures. The Clerk is also DIRECTED to forward a copy of this Order to the Court's financial deputy.

         The agency having custody of Plaintiff shall collect the filing fee as funds become available and shall continue to collect monthly payments from his inmate account until the entire filing fee of $350.00 is paid. This Order shall become a part of Plaintiff's prison file and follow him if he is transferred to another institution. Plaintiff is ORDERED to notify the Court of any change of address if he is transferred to another institution and to provide the prison officials at any new institution with a copy of the Order.


         The Defendants are Officer Darrell Sexton (“Sexton”), a K-9 Training Officer with the Knoxville, Tennessee Police Department, and the municipality of Knoxville, Tennessee [Doc. 2 pp.1, 3]. Plaintiff maintains that on May 31, 2014, Defendant Sexton began questioning him about a domestic disturbance [Id. at 3-4]. When problems arose concerning Plaintiff's identity, Sexton attempted to take him into custody [Id. at 4] and, presumably, put his hand on Plaintiff during the process. Plaintiff pulled his hand away from Sexton and asked if he were under arrest, as Sexton tried to yank him from his sitting position by the single handcuff attached to his right wrist and to sling him to the ground [Id.]. Plaintiff urged Sexton to forego further attempts to subdue him and to take him into custody, pleading with Sexton, “Come on, we don't have to go through all this” [Id.]. Sexton ignored Plaintiff's entreaties, pulled out his Taser, and shot Plaintiff with the Taser [Id.].

         Plaintiff fell to the ground [Id.]. Sexton yelled to Plaintiff to get down on the ground, though Plaintiff at that point was lying on the ground in a daze due to being tased [Id.]. Sexton directed Plaintiff to put his hands behind his back, and Plaintiff responded that, if Sexton would stop tasing him, he would comply with that directive [Id.]. Sexton pounced on top of Plaintiff and ordered him to turn over, which prompted Plaintiff to retort, “How can I with you sitting on top of me?” [Id.]. Sexton warned Plaintiff that he was “gonna have to shoot [him], ” and Sexton reached down to grasp the gun sheathed in his holster [Id.]. Plaintiff grabbed Sexton's wrist to prevent him from unholstering his gun [Id.]. Sexton repeatedly commanded Plaintiff to let go of his wrist or else he would shoot him [Id.]. Plaintiff persisted in holding onto Sexton's wrist but, due to the effects of the tasing, Plaintiff's strength was waning [Id. at 4-5].

         Sexton then punched Plaintiff in the face several times, wrested his wrist from Plaintiff's hand, placed his forearm on Plaintiff's chest, pulled out his gun, placed it on Plaintiff's left thigh and pulled the trigger [Id. at 5]. Sexton repositioned the weapon to Plaintiff's right thigh and pulled the trigger again [Id.]. Sexton moved the weapon to Plaintiff's left thigh and shot him in his left thigh a second time [Id.]. Sexton turned Plaintiff over on his back and walked away to deal with the crowd of onlookers who had gathered at the scene [Id.].

         Plaintiff was taken to the hospital and was treated for, among other injuries, a severed femoral artery in his left thigh, a damaged nerve in his left leg, and a shattered femur in his right leg [Id.]. During Plaintiff's 30-day stay in the hospital, he required a full blood transfusion of 12 units of blood and 9 units of plasma, and he underwent multiple surgeries and procedures to repair the trauma in both of his legs [Id.]. Plaintiff asserts that Sexton's actions amounted to excessive force in violation of Plaintiff's civil rights [Id. at 6].

         Plaintiff contends that Sexton's actions caused him to sustain permanent physical injuries. More specifically, Plaintiff maintains that he is now disfigured by the stitches, rods, pins, and staples required to repair the damage from the wounds and from the wounds themselves; that the implantation of medical appliances into his right leg to repair his shattered femur bone continue to plague him; that his right leg has grown shorter than his left leg; and that he has developed a permanent limp resulting from the need to adjust his gait to accommodate his foreshortened leg [Id.]. According to Plaintiff, he has sustained additional injuries from Sexton's use of potentially lethal force, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; having nightmares, anxiety, and a mistrust of law enforcement officials; and that he is experiencing high blood pressure from being required to cope with the aftermath of his near-death encounter [Id.].

         For these alleged constitutional violations, Plaintiff seeks twenty million dollars ($20, 000, 000) in compensatory damages and twenty-five million dollars ...

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