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Harris v. German

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 24, 2019

HUMBERTO GERMAN, et al., Defendants.



         I. BACKGROUND

         Devonte Harris (“Plaintiff”) is a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case now proceeds with the First Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff on March 14, 2016, against defendants Correctional Officer (C/O) Humberto German, C/O Philip Holguin, and C/O R. Burnitzki (collectively, “Defendants”), for use of excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and against defendant C/O Philip Holguin for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment.[1] (ECF No. 8.)

         On January 31, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel production of documents. (ECF No. 58.) On February 14, 2019, Defendants filed an opposition to the motion. (ECF No. 62.) Plaintiff did not file a reply to the opposition.

         On August 12, 2019, the court issued an order requiring Plaintiff to address the status of his request in the motion to compel for production of two videotapes in light of Defendants’ report that they had provided those videotapes to Plaintiff for viewing. (ECF No. 69.) On September 20, 2019, Plaintiff filed a response to the court’s order, withdrawing his request for production of the two videotapes. (ECF No. 76.)

         The remaining requests in Plaintiff’s motion to compel are now before the court. Local Rule 230(l).


         A. Allegations

         The events at issue in the operative First Amended Complaint allegedly occurred at Corcoran State Prison (CSP) in Corcoran, California, where Plaintiff is presently incarcerated.

         A summary of Plaintiff’s allegations in the First Amended Complaint follow:

         On February 24, 2011, Plaintiff was housed in the Security Housing Unit. At about 1:15 p.m., C/Os were releasing prisoners to the exercise modules. C/Os defendant German, defendant Holguin, Menzie [not a defendant], Lovelady [not a defendant], and Botello [not a defendant] skipped Plaintiff’s cell during yard and then ignored him when he called them to ask why. C/O Womack [not a defendant] was working in the control booth. Defendants German and Holguin came back and released Plaintiff for yard last. Plaintiff stripped out and defendant German kept asking him, “What’s the problem?” Defendant German continued to hold Plaintiff’s clothing as he stood naked, apparently expecting an answer. Plaintiff said, “I’m done stripping out, can I have my clothes back?” Plaintiff got dressed and defendant German handcuffed him.

         As they escorted Plaintiff to the yard, defendant Holguin placed Plaintiff against the wall by the exit door of the building and began pressing him up against the wall. Defendant German said, “You are getting your yard, so what’s the problem?” Plaintiff said that defendant German was pressing him hard into the wall unnecessarily. Defendant German said shut up or you are not going to receive yard. Plaintiff said he knows the law and has family who care, so he doesn’t care what they do. Defendant German said shut up and don’t talk. They exited the building and walked towards the yard cages. Sergeant Martinez [not a defendant] saw defendant German from the track holding Plaintiff aggressively and asked, “What’s going on?” Plaintiff began to tell him, and defendant German jerked Plaintiff to a standstill and said, “I thought I told you not to talk.” At seeing this, Sergeant Martinez said to just escort Plaintiff back to his cell.

         Upon entering the building, defendants German and Holguin slammed Plaintiff’s face into the divider of their office window. Holguin held Plaintiff’s face sideways against the window. German kicked Plaintiff’s legs apart, making him do the splits. Holguin shouted, “Fuck the law and fuck your family.” German said, “What you wanna do” over and over. C/O German threatened to take Plaintiff to the ground. Sgt. Martinez, C/O Menzie, C/O Lovelady, and C/O Botello entered the building. C/O Womack witnessed from the control booth. They did nothing, nor said nothing while Holguin had Plaintiff’s face pressed against the window and German had Plaintiff’s legs unnaturally spread apart. Plaintiff said he just wanted to go to yard, and German said, “You are not going to yard, so where do you want to go, back to your cell?” Plaintiff said he wanted to talk to the lieutenant for an excessive force interview. Sergeant Martinez said, “You’ll get what you got coming, you’ll get your excessive force interview.”

         Defendants German and Holguin escorted Plaintiff back to his cell. Plaintiff suffered knots on his forehead, a swollen cheek, pain in his neck, pain on the right side of his chest, and pain in the small of his back. On February 26, 2011, Sgt. Hubbard [not a defendant] interviewed Plaintiff and documented his injuries on video. Sgt. Rasley [not a defendant] operated the video camera. Plaintiff was medically evaluated by a nurse. On February 27, 2011, an RN evaluated Plaintiff. On February 29, 2011, another RN evaluated him. At some point, Hubbard and Rasley [not defendants] destroyed the February 26, 2011 video documenting his injuries while they were still visible. Plaintiff filed a prison appeal. On May 16, 2011, two sergeants conducted another videotaped interview of Plaintiff, but his injuries had already healed. They claimed to have lost the February 26, 2011 video.

         On March 10, 2011, defendant German denied Plaintiff his breakfast in retaliation for the excessive force allegations Plaintiff made against him. Defendant German refused Plaintiff’s inmate request form asking why.

         On April 18, 2011, C/O Cordova [not a defendant] and C/O Borgess [not a defendant] retaliated against Plaintiff for the allegations he made against their co-workers, defendants German and Holguin. They denied Plaintiff breakfast and lunch, and then falsified his segregation record saying they had delivered both to Plaintiff. Later that morning, C/O Menzie [not a defendant] escorted the nurse. When the nurse delivered Plaintiff’s medication, Plaintiff held the food port on his cell and told Menzie he wanted to see the sergeant about his breakfast and lunch being withheld. Menzie continued escorting the nurse. Defendant Holguin came to Plaintiff’s cell to see if he wanted to go to a disciplinary hearing. Plaintiff refused because he was holding the food port. Defendant Holguin summoned Sgt. Martinez who ordered Holguin to pepper spray Plaintiff to secure the food port. Defendant Holguin pepper sprayed Plaintiff and Plaintiff released the food port and went to the middle of his cell, turning his back. Defendant Holguin put his pepper spray through the food port and began spraying Plaintiff in the back of his head, neck, and back. Plaintiff suffered severe burning sensations and chest pain. Borgess [not a defendant] and another C/O escorted Plaintiff to the hospital to be evaluated. Borgess and Cordova [not defendants] doctored Plaintiff’s segregation records to falsely report that he had refused his breakfast and lunch. Plaintiff was moved to a different housing unit in the SHU.

         On August 28, 2011, defendant C/O Holguin and C/O Pano [not a defendant] came to Plaintiff’s housing unit to escort him to the yard. They conducted an unclothed body search, handcuffed Plaintiff behind his back and began walking outside toward the yard cages. Defendant Holguin told Plaintiff to pull up his boxers, which was impossible because Plaintiff was handcuffed behind his back. Plaintiff told defendant Holguin to pull his eyes up. Defendant Holguin then began escorting Plaintiff to the rotunda of his housing unit. There was a cage located there and while guiding Plaintiff into it, defendant Holguin shoved Plaintiff into the wall causing pain in Plaintiff’s shoulder. Holguin then secured the cage and left. C/O Lovelady [not a defendant] and defendant C/O Burnitzki walked by and asked Plaintiff what was going on. Plaintiff said that defendant Holguin had used excessive force against him, and the sergeant should be notified. They took no action regarding this matter. Afterward, defendant Holguin came to the rotunda to take Plaintiff back to his cell when yard time was over.

         Defendants Holguin and Burnitzki and C/O Leal [not a defendant] took Plaintiff to his cell but did not have the control booth C/O close the cell door. They came all the way into the cell with Plaintiff. Defendants Burnitzki and Holguin began pushing Plaintiff back and forth to each other several times. Defendant Holguin then pushed Plaintiff into the wall, jammed his left arm into Plaintiff’s back and used his right hand to press Plaintiff’s face against the wall while defendant Burnitzki pulled on the handcuffs from behind. Defendant Holguin told Plaintiff, “You’re not hit, you are going to stop disrespecting me and I don’t care about any lawsuit.” Plaintiff said he did not disrespect him. Defendant Holguin was mad because he was under investigation by internal affairs for previously using excessive force against Plaintiff. Defendant Burnitzki then said, “Internal affairs are not going to do shit.” Holguin said next time they are going to really hurt him. Defendant Holguin then pulled Plaintiff by the handcuffs to the cell door and took his handcuffs off.

         Plaintiff requests monetary and declaratory relief.

         B. Claims - ...

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