United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO
HONORABLE KENLY KIYA KATO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
James Johnson (“Johnson” or
“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed a Complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) alleging
defendants Los Angeles Sheriff's Department
(“LASD”), Alex Villanueva, Sheriff of LASD
(“Villanueva”), Deputy Inez (“Inez”),
and Sergeant Moore (“Moore”) (collectively,
“Defendants”) violated his rights to equal
protection, due process, “to be safe and secure in
[his] person, ” and to be free from cruel and unusual
punishment. For the reasons discussed below, the Court
dismisses the Complaint with leave to amend.
IN THE COMPLAINT
5, 2019,  Johnson, who is currently detained at
Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles, California,
constructively filed the Complaint. In the Complaint, Johnson
alleges defendant Inez assaulted him and defendant Moore
improperly disciplined him for the incident. ECF Docket No.
(“Dkt.”) 1, Compl. While not entirely clear as to
which Defendants are associated with which claims, it appears
Johnson is alleging (1) excessive force, cruel and unusual
punishment, equal protection, and “right to be safe and
secure” claims against defendant Inez in his official
and individual capacities; (2) due process and equal
protection claims against defendant Moore in his official and
individual capacities; and (3) all of the above claims
against the LASD and defendant Villanueva in their official
to the Complaint, on January 22, 2019, while Johnson was
walking through a metal cage to the prison yard, defendant
Inez directed Johnson to “come here.” Compl. at
15. Johnson walked over to defendant Inez, who directed
Johnson to “face the side of the cage.”
Id. Johnson complied with his hands
“interlaced behind [his] back.” Id.
Defendant Inez stood behind Johnson and told Johnson,
“I heard what you said.” Id. Defendant
Inez then “wrapped his hand around [Johnson's]
fingers, squeezing Johnson's fingers together.”
Id. at 15-16. Johnson twice turned around to tell
defendant Inez he was in pain, and was “punched square
in the face with a closed fist” by defendant Inez.
Id. at 16. Defendant Inez punched Johnson “3-4
more times in the face” and Johnson was pushed to the
ground and shackled by other officers. Id. The
officers continued to use force on Johnson causing pain and
injury to Johnson's lip, nose, leg, and ankle.
Id. Johnson claims he experienced “pain all
over [his] body” at a level of “7 or 8” on
a scale of 1-10. Id.
result of the incident with defendant Inez, Johnson was
charged with assaulting a staff member and had a disciplinary
review meeting with defendant Moore on February 2, 2018.
Id. at 17. The disciplinary proceeding resulted in
Johnson being placed in administrative segregation
(“ad-seg”) for 29 days, and reclassification from
“general population to K10 status.” Id.
“believe[s] that what happened with [defendant] Inez
was racially motivated” because he was “the only
Black inmate going to yard” on the day of the incident,
id. at 15, and prisoners are treated differently by
guards of different races, id. at 18. Johnson also
points to statements made by defendant Inez and another guard
after the incident. Id. Specifically, Johnson
alleges after the incident, defendant Inez stated he
“got your Black friend there” (referring to
Johnson and addressing Johnson's friend), and another
guard implicitly agreed Johnson was assaulted because of his
race by stating it was “wrong but it's how it
seeks compensatory and punitive damages and “therapy
with a licensed professional paid for by Defendants.”
Id. at 21.
plaintiff is incarcerated and/or proceeding in forma
pauperis, a court must screen the complaint under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A and is required to dismiss
the case at any time if it concludes the action is frivolous
or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A; see Barren v. Harrington, 152
F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 (“Rule 8”), a
complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In determining whether a
complaint fails to state a claim for screening purposes, a
court applies the same pleading standard as it would when
evaluating a motion to dismiss ...