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Laney v. Six Unknown Officers

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

June 13, 2014

CLAUDE D. LANEY, Plaintiff,


FRANK D. WHITNEY, Chief District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint, filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (Doc. No. 1). See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A.


In this action, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, pro se Plaintiff Claude D. Laney, a North Carolina state court inmate currently incarcerated at Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina, brings claims against Defendants for excessive force in violation of his constitutional right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.[1] In his Complaint, Plaintiff names as Defendants "Six Unknown Officers." In the section of the Complaint in which the Defendants are named, Plaintiff states that the action is against one white sergeant, one black sergeant, two white officers, and two black officers. See (Doc. No. 1 at 3). Plaintiff's action arises out of an incident that allegedly occurred at Lanesboro Correctional Institution on May 12, 2013, and in the early hours of May 13, 2013. Plaintiff alleges the following facts in the Complaint:

On 5-12-13 at approximately 5:00 p.m. while on my way to the evening meal, two Blood gang members approached me. And told me that I needed to pay $100.00 green dot to pay rent. I had only been at Lanesboro prison for 6 days. I had witnessed other prisoners being brutalized by gangs for not paying rent and I was afraid because I did not have that kind of money to pay.

When I got [to] the chow hall I noticed 5 or 6 black officers beating up inmate Bass who is (white) Caucasian male. It appeared to me that he didn't do anything to deserve what they were doing so I kept on walking.

As I was just outside of the dining area I punched a Blood gang member in front of officers so they would break it up and put me in segregation so I could be protected without snitching. It was the same gang member who told me I gotta pay rent. I only did this because I knew if I got back to the cell block they would catch me in my room and stab me. So I was in fear for my life.

At that point 5 or more [officers] began beating me in the back, arms and legs with batons because I had a firm hold onto the gang member who I knew had a knife and if I had let him go he would stab me. I was shouting and trying to tell the officers who [were] hitting me that he had a knife. But I lost my air and breath when I got sprayed with pepper spray and I let go.

The officers then escorted me to segregation where I was placed in a holding cell. The [one] I punched was put in holding cage and 3 other gang members who had also jumped in the fight on me [were] placed into separate holding cells cages.

At some point my personal property was brought back there in the holding cell to me but I was missing my legal discovery in court case along with my cosmetics, medical boots, and my personal family pictures so I refused to sign the DC160. Also missing was my radio. The officers seemed agitated that I did not sign the... DC160 form.

Also I was trying to get the officers to get medical attention for the minor injuries I sustained from officers during the altercation with the Blood gang members previously. They wouldn't allow me to wash the pepper spray out of my eyes but they did the gang members.

At about 2 or 3:00 a.m. on 5-13-2013, a black sergeant who I think was named Williams approached the holding cell cage and unlocked it. He was accompanied by 3 or 4 black officers [and] maybe 2 white officers. He unlocked my garage door and stated, "Are you ready to get out of here?" I replied, "Yes, " thinking that maybe this [sergeant] actually felt sorry for me and was gonna help me. [The sergeant] led me into the sergeant's office where a black female officer was sitting behind a desk on a computer. He directed me into a back room beyond the desk on the left and closed the door. I noticed a bunch of metal filing cabinets stacked up on the floor and some paper supplies, etc. I didn't know why I was led into that room until I turned around.

The next thing I know the black sergeant stepped up close to me and pressed his nose very harshly up against my nose and growled at me and said, "I want you to me [sic] you cracker pussy." I was afraid and shaking and asked him what did I do.

He grabbed me, "You wanna mess with my kind" and he squeezed my chest real hard and stated to me, "You messed with my boys, " referring to the gang ...

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