United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
Aaron A. Primes Plaintiff,
Officer Richard A. Lassiter, et ah, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
ANTHONY J. TRENGA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Primes, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has brought a
civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming
that Richard Lassiter, an officer at Hampton Roads Regional
Jail, unconstitutionally applied excessive
force. [Dkt, No. 1]. Specifically, Primes alleges
that Officer Lassiter deliberately shut a cell door on his
head and afterwards, laughed and refused to send him for a
medical evaluation. [Id.]. Lassiter has moved for
summary judgment and provided Primes with the notice required
by Local Rule 7(K) and Roseboro v. Garrison, 528
F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975). [Dkt. No. 13]. Primes has submitted
no opposing materials. For the reasons that follow, the Court
will grant Lassiter's motion.
Court will grant a motion for summary judgment "if the
movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).;i[T]he
relevant inquiry is 'whether the evidence presents a
sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or
whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a
matter of law/" Gordon v. Schilling, 937 F.3d
348, 356 (4th Cir. 2019) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242. 251-52 (1986)).
Officer Lassiter is the only party who put forth evidence.
Primes's complaint is neither verified nor supported by
statements that were sworn or made under penalty of perjury,
and so the Court will not consider as evidence the
complaint's allegations. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e);
United States ex rel. Doe v. Heart Solution. PC. 923
F.3d 308, 315-16 (3d Cir. 2019); Turner v. Human Genome
Science. Inc., 292 F.Supp.2d 738, 743 (D. Md. 2003).
sworn affidavit, Officer Lassiter describes the door-closing
incident as an accident. [Lassiter Aff. ¶ 8], He avers
that on June 30, 2018,  he was in the control room of
Primes's housing pod, logging inmates returning from work
as they entered their cells. [Id. ¶¶ 4-5].
Primes entered his cell, but his cellmate kept moving in and
out of the cell, prompting Lassiter to take the following
When the cellmate was back in the cell, I went to close their
door. Just as I hit the button to shut the door, I looked up
and saw [Primes] slick his head out of the cell. As soon as I
saw him, I hit the button to open the door, but it was too
late, and the door hit [Primes's] head.
[Id. ¶ 6]. (The doors operate on air pressure
and take several seconds to slide open or closed.
[Id. ¶ 4].) Lassiter declares that he did not
laugh at Primes or deny him medical care; rather, he asserts,
he immediately called his supervisor, who accompanied Primes
to the medical department. [Id. ¶¶ 7, 9].
According to the attending physician's contemporaneous
notes during a medical appointment two days later. Primes
told the physician that "his head got shut in the door
this weekend" when a "deputy shut it
accidentally." [Def, Ex. 2, at Lassiter 001].
Lassiter argues that the undisputed evidence demonstrates
that he accidentally- not deliberately-shut the door on
Primes, thus warranting summary judgment in his favor on
Primes's excessive force claim. The Court agrees. An
Eighth Amendment excessive force claim has an objective and
subjective component. Brooks v. Johnson, 924 F.3d
104. 112 (4th Cir. 2019). An inmate must demonstrate that the
defendant (1) applied more than de minimis force
(the objective component), and (2) applied that force
"maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of
causing harm" (the subjective component). Id.
at 112-13 (quoting Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312,
320-21 (1986)). There is no evidence to support the
subjective component of Primes's excessive force claim.
Lassiter swears that his actions were accidental. That
declaration is corroborated by Primes's medical records,
which report that he described the incident as an accident to
medical personnel. Because "accidently deploying force
is antithetical to deploying that force maliciously or
sadistically," Lassiter is entitled to summary judgment
on the excessive force claim. See Redmond v.
Crowther` 882 F.3d 927, 937 (10th Cir. 2018).
it is hereby
that Officer Lassiter's motion for summary judgment [Dkt.
No. 13] be and is GRANTED.
Clerk is directed to send a copy of this Order to plaintiff
and counsel of record for defendant
 In the complaint Primes does not
assert whether he is a convicted prisoner proceeding under
the Eighth Amendment or a pretrial detainee asserting rights
under the Fourteenth Amendment. Officer Lassiter's
summary judgment motion analyzes Primes's claim under the
Eighth Amendment. Records from the Criminal Division of the
Hampton Circuit Court of Virginia show that on April 27,
2018-two months before the incident at issue in this
lawsuit-the court revoked his probation and sentenced him to
time in the Virginia penitentiary. See Commonwealth v.
Primes. No. CRO8DOO145-00. Accordingly, ...