United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
Anthony J. Trenga United States District Judge
Miller, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has filed this
civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that officials at the Sussex I State Prison
("SISP") violated his constitutional rights.
Defendants, Sergeant Ricks, Officer Stephenson, Officer
Saucedo, and Lieutenant Curry, have now filed a Motion for
Summary Judgment, a memorandum of law, and affidavits to
support their motion. Dkt. Nos. 64, 65, 66. Plaintiff
received the Notice required by Local Rule 7(K) and the
opportunity to file responsive materials pursuant to
Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975),
and he has filed a response. For the reasons that follow,
defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment must be granted,
and the claims against Officer C.W. Cook must be dismissed,
Undisputed Factual Background
February 15, 2014, at approximately 9:40 a.m., Correctional
Officers Cook and Saucedo were escorting plaintiff to his
housing unit, Building 3, from an outside recreational area
that consisted of individual, fenced-in areas. Dkt. No. 65,
Ex. I ("Saucedo Aff.") ¶ 4. Prior to being
escorted to the housing unit, while he was still in the
recreational area, plaintiff was restrained with leg irons
and his hands were cuffed behind his back. Id. When
Cook and Saucedo removed plaintiff from his recreational
area, they locked the door. Id. As they began to
escort plaintiff to his housing unit, plaintiff attempted to
pass a note to another offender who was in another
recreational area nearby. Id. Cook directed
plaintiff to stop and pulled plaintiff away from the other
offender. Id. At that point, it appeared that
plaintiff became agitated; however, Cook and Saucedo
continued to escort plaintiff away from the recreational area
to the housing unit. Id.
inside the housing unit, as the officers were ascending a set
of stairs with plaintiff, Cook called Lieutenant Curry and
asked Curry to come to the housing unit. Dkt. No. 65, Ex. III
("Curry Aff.") ¶ 4. Curry told Cook that he
was on his way, and he began to head toward the 3C pod
together with Sergeant Ricks. Id.
same time, before Cook and Saucedo arrived at plaintiffs
cell, Cook retrieved a can of OC spray (a.k.a. pepper spray)
from Correctional Officer Stephenson, who was working in the
3C/3D control room at that time. Dkt. No. 65, Ex. II
("Stephenson Aff.") ¶ 4. In Stephenson's
Incident Report dated February 15, 2014, she stated,
"Saucedo came to the booth to get a can of OC."
Id.; see also Stephenson Aff., En. A.
Stephenson does not specifically remember if she in fact gave
the OC spray can to Saucedo or Cook, but she remembers
handing it to one of them on that date. Stephenson Aff.
control room officer, Stephenson was responsible for opening
and closing the cell doors when offenders entered and exited
their cells. Id. ¶ 4. When Cook and Saucedo
arrived at plaintiffs cell, 3C-02, with plaintiff, Stephenson
opened the door, and the officers directed plaintiff inside
his cell. Saucedo Aff. ¶ 5; Stephenson Aff. ¶ 4.
Saucedo then removed plaintiffs leg irons, and Stephenson
subsequently closed the cell door. Id. At that
point, Saucedo opened the cell door's tray slot, and
plaintiff backed up against the tray slot so that his
handcuffs could be removed through the slot. Id.
Saucedo held onto the handcuffs with his right hand and
instructed plaintiff to lower himself a bit so that Saucedo
could put the key into each of the cuffs in order to remove
them. Id. Plaintiff complied. Id. Saucedo
then removed the handcuff from plaintiff s left hand and
closed the cuff, holding the removed cuff in his right hand.
Id.; Dkt. No. 8 ("Am. Compl.")
(acknowledging that "Officer Saucedo was having a hard
time" removing the cuffs). Then, as Saucedo began to
remove the right cuff, plaintiff jerked away, pulling
Saucedo's right hand and arm into the tray slot. Saucedo
Aff. ¶ 5; Stephenson Aff. ¶ 4. Saucedo instantly
pulled plaintiff back toward the slot, gripping the removed
cuff and instructing plaintiff to stop and give up the
handcuffs, but plaintiff jerked away again, staying,
plaintiff was defying Saucedo's instructions, Saucedo
continued to hold onto the removed left handcuff to prevent
plaintiff from pulling the cuffs completely into the cell.
Id. Additionally, in order to regain control over
plaintiff and the handcuffs, Saucedo told Cook to administer
OC spray. Id. Cook sprayed plaintiff with OC spray
through the tray slot. Id. The first two bursts of
spray hit plaintiffs shirt while Saucedo continued ordering
plaintiff to give him the handcuffs. Id. Again,
plaintiff was defiant, stating "No" and pulling on
the handcuffs away from Saucedo further into the cell.
Id.; see also Am. Compl. at 22 (plaintiff referred
to this as a "tugging match"). Cook then
administered a third burst of OC spray into the cell, this
time spraying plaintiff in the eye area. Id. At that
point, plaintiff complied with the officer's orders and
allowed Saucedo to fully remove the handcuffs. Id.
Once the OC spray had been administered and Saucedo had
removed plaintiffs cuffs, Saucedo noticed that, due to rough
contact with the top of the tray slot while plaintiff had
been pulling on the cuffs, his right hand was cut and
bleeding. Saucedo Aff. ¶ 5.
the course of the commotion, while on his way to the pod,
Curry called Stephenson to find out what was happening.
Stephenson Aff. ¶ 5; Curry Aff. ¶ 4. Stephenson
informed Curry that Cook had administered OC spray in
plaintiffs cell. Id. Soon after, Curry and Ricks
arrived at plaintiffs cell. Saucedo Aff. ¶ 5; Curry Aff.
¶ 4. Curry and Ricks removed plaintiff from his cell and
escorted him to the shower for OC spray decontamination.
Id. At the same time, Curry instructed Saucedo to go
to the medical department to have his bleeding hand examined
and treated. Id. In addition, Curry asked plaintiff
whether he wanted to go to the medical department, and
plaintiff refused. Curry Aff. ¶ 4. Finally, Curry
instructed Stephenson to call the power plant and have them
turn on the exhaust system in 3C to decontaminate the pod.
approximately 10:30 a.m., Ricks and Curry placed plaintiff
back into his cell that had been decontaminated from the use
of OC spray - the incident was effectively over. Id.
Plaintiff alleges that Ricks and Curry knew that Cook and
Saucedo had less than six (6) months of experience working as
officers and should not have been authorized to work on the
pod unsupervised. Am. Compl. at 22, 31.
amended complaint, plaintiff makes the following relevant
1. Saucedo failed to follow jail policy and procedure when he
did not use a tether during the removal of plaintiff s
handcuffs, and he used excessive force against plaintiff in
violation of the Eighth Amendment.
2. Stephenson knew that Saucedo and Cook's actions
violated policies and procedures, and Stephenson did nothing
to prevent the use of excessive force, in violation of the
3. Curry knowingly authorized Saucedo and Cook to work in the
pod unsupervised even though they were inexperienced;
therefore, he failed to protect plaintiff from the
officers' actions and knew that the officers did not
follow proper policies and procedures in regard to using OC
spray and handling plaintiff.
4. Curry disregarded plaintiffs need for medical treatment in
violation of the Eighth Amendment.
5. Curry violated plaintiffs First Amendment right to free
speech by complicating and rendering impossible the
investigation of the incident and by hindering the ...