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Christopher Webster-Bey v. San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department

December 8, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Margaret A. Nagle United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a civil rights complaint, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, on November 1, 2010.

Congress has mandated that courts perform an initial screening of prisoner civil rights actions. This Court "shall" dismiss such a civil action before service of process if the Court concludes that the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks relief against a defendant who is immune from suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1). In screening such a complaint, the Court must construe the allegations of the complaint liberally and must afford the plaintiff the benefit of any doubt. See Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). A pro se litigant must be given leave to amend his or her complaint unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint cannot be cured by amendment. Id.; Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987).


Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Salinas Valley State Prison. (Complaint at 2.) His claims arise out of his prior detention at the West Valley Detention Center ("WVDC"), a detention facility in Rancho Cucamonga operated by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department ("Sheriff's Department"). (Id.) He has named the following defendants: Deputy Sheriff Donor; Deputy Sheriff Davalos; Sergeant O' Brian; and the WVDC. (Id. at 3-4.) In addition, plaintiff names the Sheriff's Department as a defendant in the caption, although not in the body, of the Complaint. (Id. at 1.) Plaintiff sues the individual defendants in their individual and official capacities. (Id. at 3-4.)

Plaintiff asserts claims under the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment and under the California Constitution. (Complaint at 5.) He alleges the following facts:*fn1

On July 1, 2008, plaintiff experienced chest pains and severe itching. (Complaint, Attach. at 1.) He believed that he was suffering an allergic reaction and contacted custodial staff. (Id.) Deputy Donor handcuffed and leg-shackled plaintiff and escorted him to the medical clinic. (Id. at 1-2.)

At the clinic, plaintiff described his problem to the medical staff person on duty. (Complaint, Attach. at 2.) The medical staff person told Deputy Donor to take plaintiff back to his cell, saying that plaintiff could fill out a "sick call" slip for a medical appointment. (Id.) Plaintiff attempted to explain that he was suffering chest pains and asked to speak to a senior officer. (Id.) Deputy Donor told plaintiff to get up from his chair and threatened him with force when plaintiff repeated his request to speak with a senior officer. (Id.) Plaintiff nevertheless reiterated his request. (Id.) Deputy Donor reached towards plaintiff. (Id.) Believing that the deputy would strike him, plaintiff turned his face away and tried to retreat. (Id.) Deputy Donor struck plaintiff in the head behind his left ear, grabbed him around the throat, and slammed him face down to the ground. (Id. at 2-3.) Other deputies arrived and began to jump on plaintiff's back and twist his arms, hands, and feet. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff was carried away from the clinic and again assaulted. (Id.)

Afterwards, Deputies Donor and Davalos escorted plaintiff to his housing unit. (Complaint, Attach, at 3.) Deputy Donor threatened to "write up" plaintiff for lunging at him. (Id.) Plaintiff again asked to speak with a senior officer regarding his need for medical attention. (Id.) Deputies Donor and Davalos then returned him to his cell, removed his leg shackles, and locked him in, with his hands still handcuffed behind his back. (Id.)

Plaintiff saw the food trap door open. (Complaint, Attach. at 3.) He backed up to the slot and placed his hands through it so that his handcuffs could be removed. (Id.) Deputy Donor applied pressure to plaintiff's hands and fingers, causing him pain. (Id.) Donor then tried to pull plaintiff's arm back through the slot, causing him more pain. (Id. at 3-4.) When plaintiff resisted having his arm pulled, Donor let go of plaintiff's hand, retrieved his Taser gun, and fired at plaintiff's arm. (Id. at 4.)

The shock knocked plaintiff to the ground, temporarily paralyzing him. (Complaint, Attach. at 4.) The two deputies yelled at him to turn over, but he was unable to do so. (Id.) Plaintiff received another shock with the Taser; he tried to turn over as directed but was tasered a third time. (Id.) Deputy Davalos then told Deputy Donor, "O.K. That's enough," but Donor continued tasering plaintiff. (Id.) Davalos again tried to stop Donor but Donor ignored him, and Donor swore at and continued tasering plaintiff until plaintiff had trouble breathing. (Id.) The two deputies then entered the cell, removed plaintiff's handcuffs, removed the Taser probes from his arm, and left. (Id.)

Soon afterwards, other deputies arrived and yelled at plaintiff to get up. (Complaint, Attach. at 5.) Plaintiff was unable to do so, and the deputies dragged and carried him to the lobby. (Id.) He was evaluated by a medical staff person and told that he would be seen by a physician. (Id.) Plaintiff was then placed in the "hole" and was disciplined for 30 days for battery on an employee. (Id.)

When plaintiff was eventually seen by a physician, he learned that his itching was due to scabies. (Complaint, Attach. at 5.) He was prescribed pain ...

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