United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
Ellis, III, United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on the Motion for Summary
Judgment of defendant Officer C. Godwin. Tracy Turner, a
Virginia inmate acting pro se, filed this civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Godwin
subjected him to excessive force by threatening to shoot him.
For the reasons which follow, defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment must be granted.
lawsuit arises from plaintiffs allegation that on October 15,
2014, during his confinement at the Caroline Correctional
Center ("CCC"), Officer Godwin pointed a rifle at
him and threatened to "blow [his] motherfucking head
off." (Doc. 33 at 5) Plaintiff states that he was among
a group of inmates who had stopped at a dump to use a
Port-A-John when the incident occurred. (Doc. 16 at
The others had all used the toilet, but when plaintiffs turn
came Officer Godwin told him "to hold it until we got
back to the camp." When plaintiff "questioned"
Godwin, Godwin allegedly pointed a rifle at him and
threatened him. Plaintiff states that his life was endangered
by Godwin's action and that as a result he sustained a
psychological injury for which he was prescribed two
medications. Id. Plaintiff seeks an award of $100,
000 in damages.
August 8, 2017, Officer Godwin filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment accompanied by a memorandum of law with a supporting
exhibit, and provided plaintiff with the notice required by
Local Rule 7(K) and Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d
309 (4th Cir. 1975). (Doc. 40-42) On September 8, 2017,
Turner filed an opposition to Godwin's motion captioned
"Responding to the Defenses." (Doc. 44) Upon review
of plaintiff s opposition, it was noted that the document is
neither notarized nor sworn, and thus does not subject
plaintiff to the penalty of perjury for any misstatements.
Accordingly, in deference to plaintiffs pro se status, an
Order was entered on November 22, 2017, advising plaintiff
that his opposition is insufficient as a matter of law to
defeat a summary judgment motion. (Doc. 46) The requirements
for a proper response to a motion for summary judgment were
carefully explained, and plaintiff was allowed thirty (30)
days within which to file a supplemental response to the
Motion for Summary Judgment in compliance with those
principles. Plaintiff has filed no supplemental response.
Accordingly, this matter is now ripe for disposition.
Standard of Review
judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the
burden of proving that judgment on the pleadings is
appropriate. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986) (moving party bears the burden of persuasion
on all relevant issues). To meet that burden, the moving
party must demonstrate that no genuine issues of material
fact are present for resolution. Id. at 322. Once a
moving party has met its burden to show that it is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law, the burden then shifts to the
non-moving party to point out the specific facts which create
disputed factual issues. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Matsushita
Electrical Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In evaluating a motion for summary
judgment, a district court should consider the evidence in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all
reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of that
party. United States v. Diebold. Inc., 369 U.S.
654.655 (1962). Those facts for which the moving party bears
the burden of proving are facts which are material.
"[T]he substantive law will identify which facts are
material. Only disputes over facts which might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment."
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. An issue of material fact
is genuine when, "the evidence ... create[s] [a] fair
doubt; wholly speculative assertions will not suffice."
Ross v. Communications Satellite Corp., 759 F.2d
355, 364 (4th Cir. 1985). Thus, summary judgment is
appropriate only where no material facts are genuinely
disputed and the evidence as a whole could not lead a
rational fact finder to rule for the non-moving party.
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587.
Undisputed Material Facts
support of his Motion for Summary Judgment, Officer Godwin
has submitted an affidavit in which he sets out the following
facts. .On October 15, 2014, Godwin was assigned to provide
security for an offender work crew at CCC. (Doc. 41, Godwin
Aff. ¶ 4). The Virginia Department of Transportation
("VDOT") provides a bus for work crew
transportation, and a VDOT foreman operates the bus. The
offenders comprising the work crew are patted down and loaded
into the bus in the institutional sally port, and when the
bus is secure the foreman backs it out of the sally port and
the correctional officer providing security gets on.
day in question there were 4 or 5 offenders on Godwin's
work crew. Id., ¶ 5. When they arrived at the
work site the offenders were tasked with clearing fallen
trees and trimming and removing brush. As they worked it
began to rain. At some point one of the older offenders, C.
Faulks, informed Godwin that he had to use the restroom and
it was an emergency. Id. Godwin did not feel that
the area where the crew was working was suitable for
Faulks' use, so the decision was made between Godwin and
the VDOT foreman to load the work crew back into the van to
drive to an area with a bathroom facility. Id.
Eventually, they stopped at a dump site with a Port-a-John,
and the VDOT foreman unlocked the back doors of the van so
Faulks could exit.
used to transport offender crews is designed so that the
offenders ride in a secured area. There is a metal grill
barrier between the driver and the offenders and another such
barrier between the offenders and the rear door of the bus,
which has a locked gate. Offenders enter and exit the bus
through the rear, and when they do so both the gate that
secures the offenders as well as the exterior ...