United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
D. Whitney, Chief United States District Judge.
MATTER comes before the Court on a Motion for
Summary Judgment by Defendants Chad Clifton and Jacob Street.
(Doc. No. 25). Also pending before this Court is
Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, (Doc No.
Cornelius Delane Benton is a North Carolina inmate
incarcerated at Marion Correctional Institution in Marion,
North Carolina. Plaintiff filed this action on June 8, 2018,
naming as Defendants Chad Clifton and Jacob Street, who were
correctional officers at Alexander Correctional Institution
at all relevant times. Plaintiff brings an Eighth Amendment
excessive force claim against Defendants, and he requests
declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory damages.
filed the pending summary judgment motion on October 25,
2018. (Doc. No. 25). On October 30, 2018, this Court entered
an order in accordance with Roseboro v. Garrison,
528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), advising Plaintiff of the
requirements for filing a response to the motion for summary
judgment and of the manner in which evidence could be
submitted to the Court. (Doc. No. 28). Plaintiff responded to
the summary judgment motion on January 25, 2019, by filing
his own motion for partial summary judgment. (Doc. No. 36).
Thus, this matter is ripe for disposition.
The Alleged Excessive Force Incident and the Summary
alleges that on March 12, 2017, a correctional officer
escorted him out of the kitchen at Alexander. (Doc. No. 1 at
5). Plaintiff alleges that, once in the hallway, Defendant
Street slammed him into a wall and slammed his head into the
floor, and Defendant Clifton put his knee into
Plaintiff's back and punched Plaintiff in the face.
(Id.). Lastly, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Clifton tried to stab out Plaintiff's eyes with a key,
leaving Plaintiff with a black eye. (Id.). Plaintiff
claims he developed a black eye and experienced discomfort,
pain, and soreness around his wrists, side, and back.
(Id. at 7).
Defendants' Summary Judgment Materials
summary judgment materials include the affidavits, and
attached exhibits, of Alexander Unit Manager William N.
Johnson, Defendant Jacob Street, Defendant Chad Clifton,
Alexander correctional sergeant Darren Daves, and Alexander
nurse Sarah Wilson. Defendants' evidence shows that on
March 12, 2017, at around 11:25 a.m., multiple use of force
incidents occurred involving Plaintiff, Defendants, and other
correctional staff. (Doc. No. 27-1 at ¶ 14(a): Johnson
Aff.). These incidents began when correctional officer Nathan
Scruggs ordered Plaintiff out of the kitchen and into the
hallway after he became belligerent and disrespectful. (Doc.
No. 27-1 at ¶ 14(b)). While in the hallway, correctional
officer Charles Odom observed Plaintiff becoming irate and
aggressive towards Officer Scruggs. (Id. at ¶
14(c)). Officer Odom directed Plaintiff to submit to wrist
restraints. (Id.). Defendant Street, who was also
nearby, approached the area after wrist restraints were
applied and assisted Officer Odom with escorting Plaintiff
towards the restrictive housing unit. (Id.; Doc. No.
27-2 at ¶¶ 8, 10: Street Aff.). During the escort,
Plaintiff resisted the escort by pulling back and forth
between Defendant Street and Officer Odom. (Doc. No. 27-1 at
¶ 14(e); Doc. No. 27-2 at ¶ 11). Plaintiff
continued his resistance despite orders directing him to
stop. (Id.). As a result of Plaintiff's refusal
to comply with orders and continued resistance, Defendant
Street and Officer Odom secured Plaintiff against the wall to
regain control of him. (Doc. No. 27-1 at ¶ 14(f); Doc.
No. 27-2 at ¶ 12).
Clifton arrived and ordered that leg restraints be applied
due to Plaintiff's disruptive behavior. (Doc. No. 27-1 at
¶ 14(g); Doc. No. 27-2 at ¶ 12; Doc. No. 27-3 at
¶ 10: Clifton Aff.). After Defendant Clifton applied leg
restraints, Plaintiff refused to walk and told staff they
would have to carry him. (Doc. No. 27-1 at ¶ 14(g); Doc.
No. 27-3 at ¶ 10; Doc. No. 27-2 at ¶ 13). Defendant
Clifton ordered Defendant Street and other correctional
officers to place Plaintiff face down on the floor, utilize
the four-man carry technique, and take him to the restrictive
housing unit. (Doc. No. 27-1 at ¶ 14(h); Doc. No. 27-3
at ¶ 11; Doc. No. 27-2 at ¶ 13).
arriving at the restrictive housing unit, correctional
officers took Plaintiff to the private and secure shower area
so they could remove the leg restraints and perform a
complete search of Plaintiff. (Doc. No. 27-1 at ¶ 14(i);
Doc. No. 27-3 at ¶ 12; Doc. No. 27-2 at ¶ 14). As
the leg restraints were removed and correctional officers
started exiting the area, Plaintiff began trying to kick
staff. (Doc. No. 27-1 at ¶ 14(j); Doc. No. 27-3 at
¶ 13; Doc. No. 27-2 at ¶ 15). Defendant Clifton
applied a pressure-point move to the Mandibular Angle and
rolled Plaintiff over onto his stomach. (Doc. No. 27-1 at
¶ 14(k); Doc. No. 27-3 at ¶ 13). The correctional