United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RONNIE GREER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Shamsiddeen Hatcher, a former prisoner, brings this pro se
civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against an
officer and four deputy sheriffs with the Sullivan County,
Tennessee Sheriff's Office [Doc. 1]. The complaint
alleges that Plaintiff's constitutional rights were
violated at the Sullivan County Detention Center
(“SCDC”) on July 13, 2015 [Id.].
Plaintiff's accompanying application to proceed in
forma pauperis [Doc. 3] reflects that he is virtually
destitute; thus, the application [Id.] is
GRANTED. See McGore v.
Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 612 (6th Cir. 1997)
(explaining that, after an inmate is released from
confinement, his ability to pay is determined like any
non-prisoner), overruled on other grounds by Jones v.
Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007).
to the allegations in the complaint, Plaintiff was assigned
housing in an area in the SCDC that also accommodated
prisoners on suicide watch [Doc. 1 at 2]. On July 13, 2015,
Plaintiff was accused of damaging a sprinkler head and
flooding the SCDC and he, thereafter, was removed from his
cell [Id.]. Plaintiff returned to his cell a few
hours later to find that it was uninhabitable due to excess
water and fire retardant in the cell [Id.].
Plaintiff (by implication) asked for cleaning supplies, and
the deputy assigned to the control booth left his post to
engage in an extended argument with Plaintiff about his
request for supplies. The control booth contains a monitor
that records footage from video cameras located in the cells
of inmates on suicide watch. Upon the officer's return to
his post in the control booth, he discovered the lifeless
body of a prisoner who had committed suicide.
that night, after the investigators left (the complaint is
silent as to whether the investigation involved the vandalism
of the sprinkler, the death of the inmate, or some other
matter), Defendant Deputy Hutchins sprayed Plaintiff in the
face with a large can of pepper spray, as Defendant Deputy
Bays recorded the incident on a video camera. Plaintiff was
placed in a one-man cell, though he was no threat to anyone,
and then, blinded, choking and gasping for air, he was
removed from that cell.
thereafter, Defendants Blakley and Ball returned to the area
where Plaintiff was housed, stated that Defendant Lieutenant
Hatfield had ordered the assault, and then assaulted
Plaintiff again by slamming him around and roughing him up
[Id. at 3]. At some point, Defendant Hatfield
entered the area and screamed that it was Plaintiff's
fault that the other inmate committed suicide. The officers
engaged in the second assault on Plaintiff to try to provoke
him into a reciprocal assault against them and to retaliate
against him, presumably as revenge for his perceived role in
the other inmate's suicide.
assaults on Plaintiff caused him to sustain lasting emotional
distress, psychological harm (i.e., he suffers from
nightmares about being assaulted by demons in police uniforms
and a diagnosed case of post-traumatic stress disorder), and
physical injury (he has incurred some loss of vision in both
eyes). Defendants' above-described conduct violated the
rights secured to Plaintiff by the First and Eighth
Amendments and the Due Process Clause in the Fourteenth
alleged violations of his rights, Plaintiff asks for
unspecified declaratory relief and damages in the sum of nine
hundred, ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine
dollars ($999, 999.00) [Id. at 4].
Court must screen complaints filed by free world citizens and
former prisoners who are proceeding in forma
pauperis. See McGore, 114 F.3d at 608 (citing
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)). Dismissal is required if
complaints are frivolous or malicious, if they fail to state
a claim for relief, or if they are seeking monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
performing this task, the Court recognizes that pro se
pleadings filed in civil rights cases are to be construed
charitably and held to a less stringent standard than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers. McNeil v. United
States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993); Pilgrim v.
Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996). Even so,
the complaint must be sufficient “to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face, ” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007),
which simply means the factual content pled by a plaintiff
must permit a court “to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The
standard articulated in Twombly and Iqbal
“governs dismissals for failure state a claim under
[§§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)] because the
relevant statutory language tracks the language in Rule
12(b)(6).” Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468,
470-71 (6th Cir. 2010).
order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff
must establish that he was deprived of a federal right by a
person acting under color of state law. See Black v.
Barberton Citizens Hosp., 134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th Cir.
1998); see also Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d
220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990) (“Section 1983 does not itself
create any constitutional rights; it creates a right of
action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found
Court examines the complaint under these guidelines.