Williams v. Warden
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 6/6/2017. (c/m 6/6/2017 aos, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
ANDRE WILLIAMS, #438-037, 3355645,
WARDEN J. PHILIP MORGAN,
LIEUTENANT WILLIAM MCKINLEY,
SGT. BRADLEY YONKER,
OFFICER JAMES FIORITA,
SGT. DUANE BAIR,
SGT. GARY DURBORAW,
OFFICER HARRY CARR,
OFFICER MATTHEW HOLLAR,
Civil Action No. DKC-16-276
Plaintiff Andre Williams, a Maryland Division of Correction prisoner currently housed at
Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”), has filed a civil rights action seeking $300,000.001
and alleging that seven correctional officers entered his cell and assaulted him. In response,
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment, ECF
No. 20, which Williams opposes, ECF No. 22. Because the court will consider exhibits outside
of the pleadings to determine the outcome of this case, the motion will be treated as one for
summary judgment under Rule 56. The court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See
Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow Defendants’ motion for summary
judgment will be granted.
Williams also asks that charges be filed against Defendants. ECF No. 1. To the extent that he complains
that he has been unable to press criminal charges against the officers, Williams has failed to allege a violation of a
constitutional right, because “a private citizen lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the prosecution or
nonprosecution of another.” Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973); Otero v. United States Attorney
General, 832 F.2d 141 (11th Cir. 1987).
Williams alleges that in response to a “peaceful protest” at Maryland Correctional
Training Center (“MCTC”) concerning the quality of food, he was assaulted on the afternoon of
January 11, 2016, by Defendants McKinley, Yonker, Fiorita, Bair, Durboraw, Carr and Hollar.
Williams states that he was asleep in his cell and unable promptly to respond to Defendants’
demands that he remove the covering from his cell window, at which time Defendants entered
his cell, pushed him to the ground, and hit and choked him until he lost consciousness. ECF No.
1, ECF No. 3 at p. 8. Williams does not allege any misconduct on the part of Defendant Morgan,
Defendants’ sworn statements and video footage submitted with their summary judgment
motion demonstrate that the actions taken to extract Williams from his cell were neither random
nor unprovoked. On January 11, 2016, MCTC staff were conducting feed-up of the C-tier of
Housing Unit 7, a segregation unit where prisoners had food delivered to their cells. ECF No.
20-2 at ¶ 3, Decl. of Lt. William McKinley, with attached records. Williams was an inmate
incarcerated at Housing Unit 7, C-Tier. Id. That day, several of those housed on the Unit
refused their meals, yelling for others to do the same. Id. at ¶ 4. The incident began around 8:45
a.m. and continued through the day. Id.
Prison staff attempted to ameliorate the disturbance by providing an extra cookie with the
meals, but the demonstrators wanted additional protein. Id. When told the meals that they
received were identical to those provided other prisoners, including those in general population,
some prisoners began clogging their toilets around 10:00 a.m. Id. at ¶ 5. Those who did so had
their water shut off, and those who were deemed insubordinate were written up for violating
institutional rules. Id.
Prisoners then began to impede the staff’s ability to conduct a “count”2 of those on the
tier by blocking the windows on the cell doors in violation of prison rules. Id. at ¶ 6. By about
4:10 p.m., many windows had been covered and only five prisoners had accepted their meals.
Id. at ¶ 7. McKinley, who was the officer in charge, requested permission from his superiors to
assemble a “Forced Count Team” and conduct a “forced count” wherein a team of officers opens
a cell door to account for the occupant(s). Id. at ¶ 8. Because a forced count is often preceded
by an inmate covering his cell window and refusing to remove the obstruction, an officer
opening the door is not certain of what is occurring inside the cell.
The officer may be
vulnerable to an attack, or the prisoner may be attempting an escape. Id. Due to the nature of
forced counts and the risks involved, they are videotaped, and officers are usually dressed in riot
gear, which may include body armor and a shield, along with pepper-spray. Id. at ¶ 9.
McKinley received permission to assemble the team of officers to conduct a forced count
around 5:30 p.m. Id. at ¶ 10. The team included McKinley and Defendants Bradley Younker,
Duane Bair, Gary Durboraw, James Fiorita, and Harry Carr. Id. at ¶ 10 and p. 5. McKinley can
be seen on film talking into the camera explaining the situation. ECF No. 20-3, Cell Extraction
Video, Disk 1, 00:01 – 1:18. He introduces himself and members of the team assembled to
conduct the forced count. Id. Each officer is suited in armor, which has an assigned number for
identification. Id. McKinley explains that a nurse is also present to attend to any medical needs
that may arise. Id. The officers are introduced, and the number on their body armor is identified
Younker, assigned number 3; Hollar, assigned number 4; Durboraw, assigned
During a “count,” staff look into each cell to tally each prisoner on the tier, to assess his presence and check
on prisoner safety. A count typically is performed during shift changes. Id.
number 6; Bair, assigned number 328; Carr, assigned number 2; and Fiorita, assigned number 5.
Williams was among those who had blocked his cell window. ECF No. 20-2 at ¶ 10.
After Williams refused to uncover his window, McKinley ordered that the cell door be opened
by the “Force Count Team.” Id. The video shows a team of officers arriving at Williams’s cell.
ECF No. 20-4, Cell Extraction Video, Disk 2, at 00:55. The window is obstructed. Id. Officers
are heard ordering Williams to remove the obstruction, warning him that failure to do so
promptly will result in the door being opened. Id. at 00:55-1:15. After the obstruction is not
removed, the cell door begins to open. Id. at 1:20. After the door is open, Sgt. Younker,
standing in the doorway enters the cell, followed by other officers, who can be heard repeatedly
yelling “stop resisting.” Id. at 1:23 –1:48. An officer turns on the light to the cell. Id. at 1:331:38.
Younker avers that when the cell door was opened, Williams lunged forward. Younker
Decl., Id. at ¶ 11 and p. 5. It is impossible fully to discern this from the videotape, because the
camera was shot from the hallway and/or at the cell door, behind the officers who entered the
cell. Williams’ leg can be seen on the bottom bunk-bed, indicating he was not on the ground,
with his palms placed on the floor, as directed. ECF No. 20-4, Disk 2 at 2:03. Williams explains
he failed to comply because he was asleep on his bed at the time defendants entered his cell.
Williams is pinned down and handcuffed. Id. In total, the extraction took approximately twoand-half minutes. Id. 1:23 - 2:50. The cell door begins to open at approximately 1:20, with
officers entering the cell at approximately 1:23. Id. By 2:50, the officers are carrying Williams,
handcuffed, out of the cell. Id.
Surveillance footage shows Williams being carried, while handcuffed, to a special
containment cage. Id. at 2:50 to 3:32. The footage does not show that Williams was struck in
any way during this time, nor does it show that Williams was unconscious. Id. Once placed in
the cage, he is helped by an officer who assists him in sitting upright. Id. at 3:32 – 4:10.
Williams is heard expressing difficulty breathing, id., and was taken to the dispensary for
medical treatment at about 5:44 pm. ECF No. 20-5, Medical Records of Andre Williams at p. 2.
His vital signs were stable and he had no abrasions or bleeding. Williams complained of a sore
back but was able to walk and move without problem. Id. He had some redness on the right side
of his face, but left the dispensary in fair condition and was returned to the custody of the prison
Williams received a “Notice of Inmate Rule Violation” charging him with violating five
institutional rules: Rule 100 – Engaging in a disruptive act; Rule 101 – Committing assault or
battery on staff; Rule 312 – Interfering with or resisting the performance of staff duties; Rule 400
– Disobeying an order; and Rule 408 – Misuse, alter, tamper with, damage, or destroy state
property or property of another. ECF No. 20-2 p. 4. Williams pleaded guilty to violations of
Rules 312, 400 and 408 at a disciplinary hearing held on March 14, 2016. Id. at pp. 5-10. The
hearing officer determined he was guilty of violating Rule 100 and Rule 101 as well. Id. at p. 9.
Standard of Review
Summary Judgment is governed by Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) which provides that:
The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
The Supreme Court has clarified that this does not mean that any factual dispute will
defeat the motion:
By its very terms, this standard provides that the mere existence of
some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an
otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U. S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).
“A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment ‘may not rest
upon the mere allegations or denials of [his] pleadings,’ but rather must ‘set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.’” Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club,
Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)).
The court should “view the evidence in the light most favorable to . . . the nonmovant, and draw
all inferences in her favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witness’ credibility.”
Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 644-45 (4th Cir. 2002). The court
must, however, also abide by the “affirmative obligation of the trial judge to prevent factually
unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial.” Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526 (internal
quotation marks omitted) (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993), and
citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986)).
Eighth Amendment: Use of Force
Whether force used by prison officials was excessive is determined by inquiring if “force
was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm.” Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U. S. 1, 6-7 (1992). This court must look
at the need for application of force; the relationship between that need and the amount of force
applied; the extent of the injury inflicted; the extent of the threat to the safety of staff and inmates
as reasonably perceived by prison officials; and any efforts made to temper the severity of the
response. Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 321 (1986). The absence of significant injury alone
is not dispositive of a claim of excessive force. Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34 (2010). The
extent of injury incurred is one factor indicative of whether or not the force used was necessary
in a particular situation, but if force is applied maliciously and sadistically liability is not avoided
simply because the prisoner had the good fortune to escape serious harm. Id. at 38.
Williams’ response in opposition, which does not include a declaration under oath,3 does
little to refute Defendants’ assertion that the use of force in this instance was necessitated by his
refusal to comply with orders. None of the perceived disputes of fact noted are material.
Williams did not comply with orders to remove the covering on his cell window, preventing
officers from monitoring him. The videotape of the incident does not provide an unobstructed
view of what occurred when officers entered the cell, as the officer running the videotape
remained at or near the cell entrance.
The entire cell extraction took only a few minutes. The video does not show whether, as
Defendants maintain, Williams lunged at an officer when the cell door opened or, as Williams
maintains, he remained on his bed half asleep. Subsequent force, which appears to involve
taking Williams to the floor, handcuffing him, and carrying him to a cage, does not appear to be
malicious or sadistic. The evidence only shows that the amount of force used was tempered, and
employed in furtherance of a penological objective; gaining control of an insubordinate inmate
posing a security threat. Aside from back soreness and redness on his face, Williams does not
appear to have sustained any injury as a result of the incident. The Defendants who participated
in the cell extraction are entitled to summary judgment in their favor.
Williams’ complaint also is unverified.
Williams’s unspecified naming of Warden Morgan as a Defendant also fails. Liability of
supervisory officials “is not based on ordinary principles of respondeat superior, but rather is
premised on ‘a recognition that supervisory indifference or tacit authorization of subordinates’
misconduct may be a causative factor in the constitutional injuries they inflict on those
committed to their care.” Baynard v. Malone, 268 F.3d 228, 235 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Slakan
v. Porter, 737 F.2d 368, 372 (4th Cir. 1984)). Supervisory liability under § 1983 must be
supported with evidence that: (1) the supervisor had actual or constructive knowledge that his
subordinate was engaged in conduct that posed a pervasive and unreasonable risk of
constitutional injury to citizens like the plaintiff; (2) the supervisor’s response to the knowledge
was so inadequate as to show deliberate indifference to or tacit authorization of the alleged
offensive practices; and (3) there was an affirmative causal link between the supervisor’s
inaction and the particular constitutional injury suffered by the plaintiff. See Shaw v. Stroud, 13
F.3d 791, 799 (4th Cir. 1994). Where, as here, there is no constitutional injury suffered,
supervisory liability is not established.
A separate Order follows.
June 6, 2017
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW
United States District Judge
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