United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
D. Whitney Jr. Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, (Doc. No. 17). Plaintiff
is proceeding in forma pauperis. See (Doc.
se Plaintiff Darryl Body Adkins has filed a civil rights
suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 with regards to an
incident that allegedly occurred at the Marion Correctional
Institution where he is still incarcerated. The Complaint was
dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and he was given the opportunity to
file an Amended Complaint, which is presently before the
Court on initial review. See (Doc. No. 16).
names as the sole Defendant Officer Martin in her individual
capacity. Construing the Amended Complaint liberally
and accepting the allegations as true, Defendant Martin came
to escort Plaintiff from the recreation cell back to his own
cell on October 6, 2017. Plaintiff told Defendant Martin that
he had been asking her for the television remote control ever
since she put him in the recreation cell. She responded that
she had been busy and forgot. Defendant Martin cuffed
Plaintiff's hands in front of his body, removed him from
the cell, and began escorting him while gripping his arm
tightly. Plaintiff told Defendant Martin she was grabbing him
too tightly and to loosen her grip. She did not say anything
and gripped his arm tighter. Plaintiff stopped walking,
looked Defendant Martin in the eyes, and said she is grabbing
him too hard and to loosen up. They started arguing.
Plaintiff was about to continue walking when Defendant Martin
shoved him by the arm and pushed him against the wall.
Defendant Martin said “don't think ‘cause she
a old white lady cause she can still get in it and beat my
ass [meaning she can fight].” (Doc. No. 17 at 5).
Plaintiff, who was was still pinned to the wall, started
laughing. Defendant Martin pulled him off the wall, walked
him to his cell, and called on her walkie talkie for the
control booth to open Plaintiff's cell door. Defendant
Martin was still gripping Plaintiff's arm tightly and
Plaintiff was still laughing at her.
the cell door opened, Plaintiff “yanked” his arm
from Defendant Martin's tight grasp. (Doc. No. 17 at 6).
Defendant Martin let go of his arm and Plaintiff walked into
his cell. When he was all the way into his cell towards the
bed, still handcuffed, he turned around to see Defendant
Martin standing outside the cell door fumbling with her
pepper spray holster. She pointed the pepper spray can at
Plaintiff so he turned his head and closed his eyes. He felt
the chemicals hitting his hair, right jaw, and right ear. He
did nothing aggressive towards Martin and felt his life was
in danger from this excessive use of force that was
unconstitutional and violated prison policy. No. other
officers was present at the time of Defendant Martin's
use of force. (Doc. No. 17 at 6).
was partially blind and tried to remove the pepper spray from
his face yet it spread to his eyes. Plaintiff rushed towards
Martin outside the cell and punched her face. She tumbled
backwards and fell, then Plaintiff jumped on top of her and
punched her a few more times. A Code-4 was called on the
intercom. Plaintiff got up off Defendant Martin and backed
into his cell to await the first responder officers.
Plaintiff told the officers that Defendant Martin pepper
sprayed him for no reason and that he acted in self-defense
to prevent further harm because he felt his life was in
danger. Plaintiff felt officers piling on top of him to bring
him down to the floor. They cuffed and shackled him then
roughly snatched him off the floor to escort him to lockup in
E-unit for detox in the showers. Defendant Martin denied
Plaintiff's version of events so he asked to look at the
surveillance video footage. Defendant has denied
Plaintiff's version of events so he has asked for an
investigation and review of the video footage.
was having a hard time breathing because of asthma and had a
“slight” reaction due to the pepper spray which
“almost” caused an asthma attack. (Doc. No. 17 at
8). The spray caused facial swelling and a nurse checkup that
came back with no positive vital or blood pressure signs.
seeks Defendant Martin's permanent reassignment to
another prison, damages, costs and fees, and discovery
including video camera surveillance footage of the incident.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in forma
pauperis, the Court must review the Complaint to
determine whether it is subject to dismissal on the grounds
that it is “(i) frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). In its
frivolity review, a court must determine whether the
Complaint raises an indisputably meritless legal theory or is
founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as
fantastic or delusional scenarios. Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989). A complaint
should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim
“unless ‘after accepting all well-pleaded
allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and
drawing all reasonable factual inferences from those facts in
the plaintiff's favor, it appears certain that the
plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his
claim entitling him to relief.'” Veney v.
Wyche, 293 F.3d 726, 730 (4th Cir. 2002)
(quoting Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231,
244 (4th Cir. 1999)).
pro se complaint must be construed liberally.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see
also Smith v. Smith, 589 F.3d 736, 738 (4th
Cir. 2009) (“Liberal construction of the pleadings is
particularly appropriate where … there is a pro
se complaint raising civil rights issues.”).
However, the liberal construction requirement will not permit
a district court to ignore a clear failure to allege facts in
his complaint which set forth a claim that is cognizable
under federal law. Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990). A
pro se complaint must still contain sufficient facts
“to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level” and “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007); see Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (the Twombly
plausibility standard applies to all federal civil complaints
including those filed under § 1983). This
“plausibility standard requires a plaintiff to
demonstrate more than a sheer possibility that a defendant
has acted unlawfully.” Francis v. Giacomelli,
588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (internal
quotation marks omitted). He must articulate facts that, when
accepted as true, demonstrate he has stated a claim entitling
him to relief. Id.
treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions
under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the
Eighth Amendment, ” Helling v. McKinney, 509
U.S. 25, 31 (1993). In its prohibition of “cruel and
unusual punishments, ” the Eighth Amendment places
restraints on prison officials, who may not, for ...