United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
Ellis, III United States District Judge
Rashawn Williams, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has
filed a civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, principally alleging that his Eighth Amendment rights
were violated by officials at the Virginia Beach Correctional
Center ("VBCC"). Plaintiff has applied to proceed
in forma pauperis in the lawsuit. After careful
review of plaintiffs complaint and the attached exhibits, the
claims against the defendants must be dismissed pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) for failure to state a
alleges that on March 16, 2016 he was moved to a different
housing unit in VBCC. Without additional detail, he states
that he was assaulted and his glasses were stolen in the new
unit, and he was moved to a visitation room after he told
officers that he feared for his life. Corporal Kristal
Wallace came to see plaintiff and informed him that she
believed he was block-shopping, and that he would be placed
in Blst, a "reass" unit. Compl. at 5. Sgt. Conti
then put plaintiff in handcuffs to escort him to the new
unit, and on the way Conti and Wallace were "squeezing
[plaintiffs] arms and hands violently which were handcuffed
behind [his] back." Id. When plaintiff said
they were hurting him Wallace told him to "stop
bitching, man up, " and plaintiff replied that Wallace
and Conti were "nothing but [Sheriff] Ken Stolle's
slaves." Id. Wallace then admonished plaintiff
to "shut the fuck up" and stated that he was going
to "the hole." Id. Conti "twisted
[plaintiffs] arms violently all the way back, " and
plaintiff "began twisting and turning" and saying
that they were hurting him although he was complying with
them. Conti "tried to take [plaintiff] down to the
ground" and Wallace punched him on the right side of his
face with a closed fist. Id. Plaintiff at that point
stated, "Wallace you a dead bitch for assaulting me in
my face. I know how to find you." Compl., first
unnumbered p. following 5. Plaintiff was taken to the ground
and shackles were placed on his feet "due to [him]
kicking [his] feet around, " and he was placed in a cell
alone. Id. Cpl. Wallace "took out a criminal
street charge on" plaintiff for obstruction of justice
and threatening her with bodily harm; that charge later was
nolle prosequi at the request of the Virginia Beach
Commonwealth Attorney's Office so the it could be
re-filed as a felony, and plaintiff was served with an
indictment on May 21, 2016. Id.
has attached several exhibits to the complaint. Among them is
an Incident Summary prepared by Cpl. Wallace which reflects
Inmate Williams was originally removed from B2F1 because he
feared for his life from the entire block. Inmate Williams
described a few inmates in the block, but could not list any
names. After review of inmate Williams's housing and
classification history, it was determined that inmate
Williams was block-shopping, and it was confirmed when I went
to talk with him, and within the first couple of sentences,
he was asking to be returned to A3K so he wouldn't have
any more problems because they all got along. Inmate Williams
was going to be rehoused on B1 st until he began to threaten
Sergeant Conti and I. Inmate Williams tried to break away
from our control and repeatedly threatened us as well as
telling us to let go of him because it hurt. Once on C3rd,
inmate Williams had to be taken to the ground because he
began to kick and pull away. Once in C3F CA318, inmate
Williams was taken to the ground again. He again began
threatening the staff saying, "Just wait until I get out
on the street, " "I only have 6 months left, "
"When I get out, I'm gonna kill you all, "
"I gotta get out sometime, " "I'll smoke
all yall, " and "Wallace you a dead woman bitch, I
know how to find you." Just to name a few threats. When
we left C3F, we were called back because inmate Williams had
tied a jumpsuit loosely around his neck and had placed the
mat against the door. Inmate Williams was removed from CA318
and placed in C A319 via cell extraction and placed on
suicide precautions without further incident.
Compl., Att.3, Incident Summary 3/17/16. The report indicates
plaintiff was sanctioned with 56 days restricted housing and
56 days suspended as a result of the incident.
named defendants in this lawsuit are Cpl. Wallace and Sgt.
Conti. Plaintiff asserts three claims: (1) assault against
Cpl. Wallace based upon her punch to his face; (2) excessive
force against both Sgt. Conti and Cpl. Wallace for violently
and unnecessarily twisting his handcuffed arms behind his
back even though he was "completely complying;" and
(3) harassment against Cpl. Wallace for "continuing to
pick with [him]." Compl., second unnumbered p. following
As relief, plaintiff seeks monetary damages and "to have
[his] 8 years of probation reduced to 6 months to 1
reviewing a complaint pursuant to § 1915A, a court must
dismiss a prisoner complaint that is frivolous, malicious, or
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). Whether a complaint states a claim
upon which relief can be granted is determined by "the
familiar standard for a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6)." Sumner v. Tucker. 9 F.Supp.2d 641,
642 (E.D. Va. 1998). Thus, the alleged facts are presumed
true, and the complaint should be dismissed only when
"it is clear that no relief could be granted under any
set of facts that could be proved consistent with the
allegations." Hishon v. King & Spalding.
467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). To survive a 12(b)(6) motion, "a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal. 556 U.S. -,
-, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." Id. However, "threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice" to meet this
standard, id, and a plaintiffs "factual allegations must
be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level...". Twombly, 550 U.S. at 55.
may also consider exhibits attached to the complaint.
United States ex rel. Constructors. Inc. v. Gulf Ins.
Co.. 313 F.Supp.2d 593, 596 (E.D. Va. 2004) (citing 5 A
Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal
Practice and Procedure § 1357, at 299 (2d ed.1990),
cited with approval in Anheuser-Busch v. Schmoke. 63
F.3d 1305, 1312 (4th Cir.1995)). Moreover, where a conflict
exists between "the bare allegations of the complaint
and any attached exhibit, the exhibit prevails."
Gulf Ins. Co.. 313 F.Supp. 2d. at 596 (citing
Fayetteville Investors v. Commercial Builders. Inc.. 936
F.2d 1462, 1465 (4th Cir.1991)).
first to plaintiffs claim that defendants applied excessive
force during the incident at issue, to state an Eighth
Amendment claim an inmate must demonstrate that
'"the prison official acted with a sufficiently
culpable state of mind (subjective component) and... the
deprivation suffered or injury inflicted on the inmate was
sufficiently serious (objective component).'"
Iko v. Shreve. 535 F.3d 225, 238 (4th Cir. 2008)
(quoting Williams v. Benjamin. 77 F.3d 756, 761 (4th
Cir. 1996)). To satisfy the objective component, the
plaintiff must show that the "nature" or amount of
force employed "was nontrivial." Wilkins v.
Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34 (2010). The subjective component
turns on whether the inmate can demonstrate
"'wantonness in the infliction of pain."'
Iko, 535 F.3d at 239 (quoting Whitley v. Albers. 475
U.S. 312, 322 (1986)). The "core judicial inquiry"
in making such a determination is "whether 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, 7
(1992); see also. Whitley, 475 U.S. at
320-21. "When prison officials maliciously and
sadistically use force to cause harm, contemporary standards
of decency always are violated ... whether or not significant
injury is evident." Hudson. 503 U.S. at 9. The
extent of injury suffered by the inmate is relevant to the
Eighth Amendment inquiry, both because it may suggest whether
the use of force could plausibly have been thought necessary
in a particular situation, Whitley. 475 U.S. at 321,
and because it may provide some indication of the amount of
force applied. Wilkins. 130 S.Ct. at 1178.
(rejecting the notion that an excessive force claim involving
only de minimis injury is subject to automatic
dismissal). Nonetheless, "[i]njury and force ... are
only imperfectly correlated, and it is the latter that
ultimately counts." Id. at 1178-79.
of the objective component in a successful Eighth Amendment
claim is less demanding relative to the subjective component.
Williams. 77 F.3d at 761. Here, plaintiff alleges
that he suffered pain when defendants squeezed his arms and
twisted the handcuffs he was wearing, and that he has a scar
on his face from a ring Cpl. Wallace was wearing when she
punched him. For purposes of this analysis, it will be
assumed that these injuries when taken in the light ...