United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO ADD A PARTY
SCREENING ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED
COMPLAINT OR NOTIFY COURT OF WILLINGNESS TO PROCEED ON
COGNIZABLE CLAIMS (ECF NOS. 1, 7) THIRTY (30) DAY
BARBARA A. MCAULIFFE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
LaCedric William Johnson is a state prisoner proceeding
pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On October
26, 2018, Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a
complaint with this Court. (ECF No. 1.) Before the Court
could screen Plaintiff's complaint, Plaintiff filed a
motion to add a party. (ECF No. 7.)
motion to add a party, (ECF No. 7), is granted. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) (a party may amend once as a matter of
right, but must seek leave of court for further amendments).
Therefore, R. Newton is added as a defendant in this action
and the Court will evaluate the allegations made against R.
complaint, filed on October 26, 2018, is currently before the
Court for screening. (ECF No. 1.)
Screening Requirement and Standard
Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against
an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion
thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or
malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant
who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b);
see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
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). Detailed factual allegations
are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
Moreover, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant
personally participated in the deprivation of Plaintiff's
rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th
proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are
entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to
have any doubt resolved in their favor. Wilhelm v.
Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012). To survive
screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible,
which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court
to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for
the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79;
Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th
Cir. 2009). The “sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully” is not sufficient, and “facts
that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's
liability” falls short of satisfying the plausibility
standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572
F.3d at 969.
Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations
is currently housed at California State Prison, Solano.
Plaintiff alleges that the events at issue took place at
Pleasant Valley State Prison (“PVSP”). Plaintiff
names the following defendants: (1) Scott Frauenheim, Warden
of Pleasant Valley State Prison; (2) Correctional Sergeant J.
Benavides; (3) Correctional Officer J. Bejinez; (4)
Correctional Officer S. Deshazo; (5) Correctional Officer D.
Erickson; (6) Correctional Officer S. Espinoza; (7) Licensed
Vocational Nurse R. Hansen; (8) Correctional Officer J. Hill;
(9) Registered Nurse Ryuan Hoggard; (10) Correctional Officer
C. Kennedy; (11) Correctional Officer W. Leon; (12) Licensed
Vocational Nurse M. Liebold; (13) Correctional Officer S.
Lopez; (14) Correctional Officer G. Luna; (15) Correctional
Officer M. Ramirez; (16) Correctional Officer A. Salas; (17)
Correctional Officer M. Santos; (18) Licensed Vocational
Nurse M. Sharp; (19) Correctional Officer E. Trinidad; (20)
M. George; and (21) R. Newton.
alleges as follows: Custody staff at PVSP have a longstanding
practice of using pat-down and unclothed body searches to
initiate assaults against targeted inmates as a means of
intimidation, harassment, and retaliation resulting in false
115 Rules Violation Reports alleging “battery of peace
officer” and disciplinary sanctions, i.e.,
administrative segregation placement, Security Housing Unit
term, increased classification score, forfeiture of
good-time/worktime credits, possible transfer and referral to
the District Attorney for prosecution. At the time of this
incident, Plaintiff fit the criteria of a “targeted
inmate” because he was actively pursuing a conversion
action in the Superior Court of California, County of Fresno
against two PVSP prison guards who intentionally discarded
legal files to five active cases, religious property, and
January 29, 2014, at 0930 hours, Facility Bravo (Facility B)
yard Defendant Benavides was conducting a controlled yard
release with random pat-down searches being conducted by
approximately ten correctional officers. During the Building
1 yard release, Plaintiff forgot his identification card in
his cell. Since inmates must carry their identification card
on their person, Plaintiff summoned Defendant Newton, the
Building 1 Control Tower Officer, for an unlock, explaining
that he had forgotten his identification card in his cell and
requesting an unlock to gain access. Defendant Newton denied
Santos, the Building 1 First Tier Floor Officer, ordered
Plaintiff to “strip-out” in the lower B section
shower. Plaintiff took off all of his clothes except for his
boxers, gave them to Defendant Santos and Defendant Leon, the
Second Tier Officer, along with his legal folder, and stood
waiting until the search of his clothing and legal folder was
completed. Defendant Santos approached the shower and told
Plaintiff, “Give me your boxers, ” just as
Defendant Luna and Defendant Espinoza, a female officer,
entered the building and looked towards the shower and the
ongoing search. (ECF No. 1, at 7.) Plaintiff stated,
“One moment out of respect for the women, I'm
Muslim.” (Id.) Defendant Santos then opened
the shower gate and barked “Cuff Up! Cuff Up! Get
Down!” (Id.) When Plaintiff asked what he had
done, Defendant Santos emptied a canister of O.C. pepper
spray directly in Plaintiff's face, blinding him.
Plaintiff stumbled blindly to the back of the shower, turned
the water on, and rinsed his eyes, with his back to Defendant
Santos. Defendant Santos then entered the shower and began
striking Plaintiff across the knee of his left leg with
rapid, hard successive blows with his MEB expandable baton,
which caused Plaintiff's surgically repaired knee to
weaken, become painful, and a wound on the knee to open up
and bleed. When Plaintiff turned around, Defendant Santos
left the shower.
point, Defendant Leon emptied a canister of O.C. pepper spray
into Plaintiff's face, blinding Plaintiff and causing
Plaintiff to inhale mace through his nose, choking Plaintiff,
as Defendant Leon yelled for Plaintiff to “Get the fuck
down!” (Id.) Plaintiff turned, placed his head
under the water to rinse his eyes, due to the burning and
blindness, and attempted to comply with the order to prone
out on the shower, but pain from the injured knee and leg
made compliance difficult. Defendant Santos entered the
shower for a second time and began beating Plaintiff across
the arm, wrist, elbow, and body with his MEB baton. When
Plaintiff stood up and raised his arms to protect himself
from blows to his head, Defendant Santos ran out of the
Plaintiff was being beaten by Defendant Santos, Defendant
Espinoza made a call over her radio of a disturbance in
Building 1. All inmates were ordered down. Defendant
Benavides and approximately 10 other officers who were
outside of the building entered the building, waving batons
and shaking up their canisters of O.C. pepper spray. The
officers formed a skirmish line in front of the shower,
yelling “Get down!” (Id. at 8.)
Defendant Santos then sprayed Plaintiff in the face with
another canister of O.C. pepper spray. Further, the officers
who had responded to Defendant Espinoza's call also
emptied numerous canisters of O.C. pepper spray directly into
Plaintiff's face, further blinding, burning, and choking
Plaintiff, as they yelled “Get down!”
(Id.) As Plaintiff attempted to prone out in a pool
of pepper spray, Defendant Santos entered the shower for a
third time and began beating Plaintiff across the arms and
legs with his MEB baton. Defendant Santos then grabbed
Plaintiff by the ankle and dragged Plaintiff out of the
shower and onto the dayroom floor.
Hill and Defendant Salas then jumped on Plaintiff's back,
causing pain, and both began punching Plaintiff in the face
and head. Plaintiff's head bounced off of the concrete
floor approximately three times. Out of fear, Plaintiff
attempted to protect his left wrist, which was swollen,
throbbing, and disfigured, by placing it under his torso.
While Plaintiff was using his right arm to protect his head
and face from punches to the head and face by Defendants Hill
and Salas, Defendant Benavides grabbed his right hand and
wrist and held it. Defendants Benavides, Luna, Lopez, and
Salas were punching and pulling on Plaintiff's wrist,
while yelling, “Stop resisting!” (Id. at
9.) At no time did any of the surrounding officers intervene
to stop the beating of Plaintiff.
unknown officer began kicking Plaintiff in the genitalia,
Plaintiff began twisting his hips, making his genitalia a
moving target, to avoid further contact. Other officers began
kicking and stomping Plaintiff's legs and torso until
Plaintiff became weak. Defendant Kennedy continued kicking
Plaintiff. Defendants Benavides, Hill, Lopez, Luna, and Salas
continued punching Plaintiff and pulling on Plaintiff's
harms. Defendant Hill stated: “He's screaming like
a bitch.” (Id.) Plaintiff's wrists were
then cuffed behind his back, extremely tight. Defendant
Benavides grabbed Plaintiff's ankles and Defendant
Ramirez placed flex cuffs on Plaintiff's ankles, tightly,
which dug into Plaintiff's flesh, causing bleeding and
staff were summoned. Defendants Hoggard, Hansen, Liebold, and
Sharp brought a gurney. Defendants Benavides, Santos, and
Ramirez lifted Plaintiff, placed Plaintiff in a stokes
litter, and then placed him on the gurney. Defendant Salas
took Plaintiff's boxer shorts off and placed the
pepper-spray soaked underwear over Plaintiff's head,
burning Plaintiff's face. Plaintiff was naked in the
presence of Defendants Hansen, Liebold, Sharp, and Espinoza,
all women. Nothing was placed over Plaintiff to cover his
Bejinez and Trinidad then wheeled Plaintiff, naked, on the
gurney across the yard in the presence of the inmate
population, custody staff of both genders, and support
services staff. Plaintiff was taken to the Facility B medical
clinic, where he arrived at approximately 0945 hours.
Defendant Deshazo was the assigned medical triage coverage
Bejinez and Trinidad lifted Plaintiff off of the gurney in
the stokes litter and slammed Plaintiff to the ground in the
holding tank. The already tight handcuffs that were under
Plaintiff's body clicked even tighter, which caused the
handcuffs to dig deeper into Plaintiff's injured wrist,
flesh, and bone, causing excruciating pain. Plaintiff asked
Defendant Deshazo to loosen, or remove, the cuffs and to
summon medical staff for treatment. However, Defendant
Deshazo stated “No. And shut up!” while Plaintiff
was screaming in pain, hyperventilating, coughing, and
sweating. Defendant Deshazo placed a spit mask hood over
Plaintiff's head, in violation of CDCR's Department
Operation Manual, which forbids placement of a spit hood on
an inmate suffering from pepper spray exposure. Plaintiff was
showing apparent signs of respiratory distress and weakness
from the beating. Plaintiff was choking, gagging for air,
hyperventilating, sweating, phlegm and mucus was sticking to
the spit hood mask, which clogged up the mask and caused
Plaintiff to suffocate and fight for air. Plaintiff's
lungs are damaged by Valley Fever spores. Plaintiff was in
and out of consciousness. Defendant Deshazo disregarded
Plaintiff's pleas for help while the hand and flex ankle
cuffs were cutting into Plaintiff's flesh, the spit hood
was restricting the oxygen to Plaintiff's lungs and
brain, Plaintiff was burning all over from excessive pepper
spray, Plaintiff's head was throbbing, and Plaintiff was
bleeding and swelling. Defendant Deshazo just ignored
Plaintiff, even though he was within 10 feet of Plaintiff. At
no time did Defendant Deshazo cover up Plaintiff's
genitalia. Instead, Defendant Deshazo left Plaintiff
hog-tied, naked, and suffering for an hour. In fact,
Defendant Deshazo opened the door to medical and let another
inmate in, who witnessed Plaintiff, naked and suffering on
inmates were ordered to lock up for a yard recall over the PA
system. Another inmate, who witnessed Plaintiff being wheeled
across the yard naked, also witnessed the responding officers
exit Building 1 high-fiving and fist bumping.
approximately 1045 hours, Defendants Bejinez and Trinidad had
a conversation with Defendant Benavides at the Facility B
medical entrance. Then, Defendants Bejinez and Trinidad
grabbed a gurney, placed Plaintiff on the gurney, and wheeled
him, still naked, across the yard to the gym for
decontamination. Defendants Bejinez and Trinidad removed the
spit mask. After one of the Defendants stated that the
showers were not working, they left Plaintiff lying in the
stokes litter on the gurney suffering and sat down and held a
conversation among themselves. Defendant Benavides entered
the gym told Defendants Bejinez and Trinidad to remove
Plaintiff's cuffs, take Plaintiff out of the stokes
litter, and place Plaintiff on the bench. Plaintiff could not
hold himself up and was slumped over because he was weak and
could not support himself with his injured arm, wrist, knees,
or leg. Defendants Bejinez and Trinidad then just sat back
down and resumed their personal conversation.
point, Gomez, who is not a defendant, entered the gym,
assessed the situation, filled a bucket with water from a
sink, and poured it over Plaintiff's head. After Gomez
poured a second bucket of water over Plaintiff, Plaintiff
requested that Gomez pour a third bucket of water over him
because his penis was burning. Plaintiff informed Gomez that
the burning was unbearable. However, Gomez stated that:
“You'll be better off without water, water agitates
the chemical.” Plaintiff's eyes were never rinsed.
Hoggard then entered the gym, stopped approximately ten feet
away from Plaintiff, wrote something down on a piece of
paper, and exited the gym. Plaintiff assumed that Defendant
Hoggard, who is a nurse, was going to return to provide
medical care, but Defendant Hoggard did not. Instead, as soon
as Defendant Hoggard exited the gym, Defendant Benavides
entered the gym, told Defendants Bejinez and Trinidad to
prepare Plaintiff for transport to Delta-4 ad-seg
(administrative segregation) unit, and gave Plaintiff a pair
of boxer shorts. Plaintiff was unable to put the boxer shorts
on without assistance.
Hoggard's CDCR 7219 Injury/Assessment Medical Report of
Injuries only indicated that Plaintiff had a scratch/abrasion
on his left knee and O.C. pepper spray on his torso.
Plaintiff asserts that this orchestrated plan of action
between Defendants Benavides and Hoggard to minimize
Plaintiff's documented injuries was done in order to
isolate Plaintiff in ad-seg and to prevent Plaintiff from
getting medical care, which would have opened up a serious
investigation into excessive force and the completion of an
excess force video deposition as required by prison
approximately 1200 hours, Defendants Bejinez and Trinidad had
to carry Plaintiff into the Delta 4 segregation unit by
putting their shoulders under his arms in order to drag
was found unresponsive in Cell #127 at 1600 hours by a Delta
4 unit officer. After officers entered the cell, Delta 4 unit
medical staff, Licensed Vocational Nurse D. Hall was
summoned. After Nurse Hall ascertained that Plaintiff's
injuries were severe and his vitals were high, Nurse Hall
made arrangements for Plaintiff to be taken to PVSP
Correctional Treatment Center (“CTC”).
Plaintiff's visible signs of injury were assessed and
documents by Registered Nurse K. Bradley on a CDCR 7219
Injury/Assessment Report. Plaintiff was evaluated by Dr. Ola,
given a shot for pain management, and then sent to Community
Regional Medical Center in Fresno. Plaintiff was admitted to
the hospital, monitored throughout the night, and then
released on January 30, 2014.
January 30, 2014, Plaintiff was housed at PVSP CTC for
medical evaluation and monitoring. The physical signs of
trauma to Plaintiff's head and body were more prominent.
Plaintiff's eyes were black and blue, he had broken blood
vessels in both eyes, his left wrist was deformed and
swollen, he had a loss of feeling in his left hand, he had a
numb and tingling sensation in his left extremities, a
bruised left bicep and rib, his left knee was swollen with
two lacerations, his left shin was swollen, he had a right
inside ankle gash, an intense headache and pain all over his
body, and his eyes and body were burning from pepper spray.
Facility B. Captain A. Shimmins personally came to CTC,
visually observed Plaintiff, issued Plaintiff a CDCR 114-D
Lockup order, and told Plaintiff that Plaintiff would be
released to ad-seg once released by medical and that
Plaintiff would be issued a CDCR 115 Rules Violation Report
for “Battery on a Peace Officer.”
January 31, 2014, at 1000 hours, Plaintiff was allowed to
take a shower. After about 20 minutes, the effects of the
pepper spray fully wore off.
February 3, 2014, at 1000 hours, a doctor inquired about
Plaintiff's pain level based on Plaintiff's apparent
head and eye injuries. Plaintiff told the doctor that he felt
dizzy, severe headache, and blurred vision. The doctor
prescribed Plaintiff ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and made
Plaintiff a specialty clinic appointment to see optometry.
hours on February 3, 2014, Defendant Santos, escorted by I.
Gonzalez, a defendant in Plaintiff's Fresno County
Superior Court conversion action, case number 13CECG02602,
provided Plaintiff with a CDCR 1083 Property Inventory
Receipt. After Plaintiff noticed that there was no
documentation of his legal files, books, and religious
materials, he refused to sign the property receipt.
February 5, 2014, Defendant Santos, along with A. Martinez,
another defendant in Plaintiff's Fresno County Superior
Court conversion action, case number 13CECG02602, brought
Plaintiff's property to Delta 4 unit in order to bring
Plaintiff's property within compliance of the 6 cubic
feet property guideline policy. Plaintiff alleges that it was
apparent that some of his property was already missing.
Defendant Santos and Martinez issued an ultimatum:
“Throw it away or send it home, ” and began
discarding Plaintiff's property. (Id. at 14.)
February 6, 2014, Plaintiff was brought before the Initial
Classification Committee (“ICC”) in Delta 4 unit
for ad-seg review. The ICC consisted of, but was not limited
to, Defendant Warden Frauenheim, Chief Deputy Warden R.
Fisher, and Facility B Captain Shimmins. Plaintiff was
informed that he would be held in ad-seg pending charges and
adjudication of CDCR 115 Rules Violation Report, Log Number
#14-FB-01-080, for “Battery on a Peace Officer
Resulting in the Use of Force” on January 29, 2014.
When Plaintiff stated that he was assaulted by staff and the
reports are falsified, Fisher told Plaintiff that Plaintiff
should save his statements for a 602 grievance or the Rules
Violation Report hearing.
February 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed a health care staff
complaint against Defendant Hoggard for leaving Plaintiff in
the hands of custody staff to suffer from his various
injuries and pepper spray exposure and not providing any
February 12, 2014, Plaintiff was issued CDCR 115 Rules
Violation Report, Log Number #14-FB-01-080, for
“Battery on a Peace Officer Resulting in the Use of
Force.” The Rules Violation Report was signed by
Defendant Santos and dated for January 29, 2014. At this
point, Plaintiff became aware of the extent of Defendant
Santos' falsified allegations in his report to cover up
the excessive force. Defendant Santos' false
misrepresentation were presented to the Fresno County
District Attorney and presented at the Rules Violation Report
February 18, 2014, Plaintiff was seen by the mental health
department and prescribed Citalopram for severe depression
and anxiety and weekly therapy sessions due to the trauma
Plaintiff suffered. Also, on February 18, 2014, Plaintiff was
taken to the specialty clinic for an optometry examination.
It was ascertained that Plaintiff suffered eye damage from
the assault and a bi-focal was added to his prescription.
Plaintiff also suffered a stigmatism.
February 19, 2014, Plaintiff was issued a CDCR 837
Crime/Incident Report, Log # PVSP-FBP-14-01-0022, dated
1/29/14, and which contained staff reports from Defendants
Benavides, Bejinez, Erickson, Espinoza, Hill, Kennedy, Leon,
Lopez, Luna, Newton, Ramirez, Salas, Santos, Hansen, Hoggard,
Liebold, and Sharp. Plaintiff alleges that this was the first
opportunity he had to view the coordinated cover up that
followed the assault. Plaintiff states that the reports were
falsified in order to cover up the systematic brutality by
March 11, 2014, Sergeant Clark, along with Correctional
Officer Ruggles, conducted an excessive force video
deposition in Delta 4 unit at 1925 hours. On March 18, 2014,
Sergeant Clark and Correctional Officer Ruggles conducted a
second excessive force video deposition because they
“ran out of tape on the last one.” (Id.
March 20, 2014, Plaintiff sent an excessive force staff
complaint to Defendant Frauenheim.
on March 20, 2014, Plaintiff requested a voluntary dismissal
of Fresno County Superior Court Case No. 13CECG02602 because
he was suffering from severe depression, severe headaches,
fear of further retaliation, and inadequate law library
provisions that limited him to three items of legal resources
per week. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Benavides denied Plaintiff two court-ordered telephone court
conference calls in Case No. 13CECG02602, hindering
Plaintiff's access to the court on December 23, 2013 and
January 6, 2014. On April 23, 2014, the voluntary dismissal
without prejudice of Case No. 13CECG02602 was granted.
on April 23, 2014, Plaintiff's staff complaint (PVSP
14-0683) against Defendant Santos for falsified reports,
assault, and battery was granted in part.
September 18, 2014, medical staff issued Plaintiff a second
pair of eye-wear to conclude the correction of the damage to
his eyes caused by the January 29, 2014 assault.
September 2015, Plaintiff needed an operation to remove a
lipoma tumor lesion in his right lateral flank, where
Defendant Kennedy and other officers kicked Plaintiff in the
rib area with military style boots.
September 22, 2015, Plaintiff suffered temporary blindness in
his right eye. He was diagnosed with ocular migraines as a
result of defendants beating Plaintiff in the head.
asserts that “Defendants” are being sued in their
individual capacity and their official capacity.
seeks $5, 000, 000.00 in compensatory damages for each
defendant in each cause of action, $5, 000, 000.00 in
punitive damages for each cause of action, declaratory
relief, costs of suit, and/or attorney's fees.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8
to Rule 8(a), 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).
“Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair
notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds
upon which it rests.” Swierkiewicz ...