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Aljamailawi v. Johnson

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

November 30, 2017

DANNY JOHNSON et al., Defendants.


          Janet T. Neff United States District Judge

         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) (PLRA), the Court is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these standards, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim against Defendants Burke and McDonald. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendants Johnson and Keeler.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility (JCF) in Jackson, Jackson County, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF) in Manistee, Manistee County, Michigan, and on a bus driven by ECF officials that stopped at the Pugsley Correctional Facility (MPF) in Kingsley, Michigan. Plaintiff sues former ECF Correctional Officer Danny Johnson; ECF Correctional Officer N. Keeler; MDOC Hearings Officer S. Burke; and ECF Hearings Investigator (unknown) McDonald.

         Plaintiff alleges that, on October 22, 2015, he was shackled in leg irons, belly chains, and cuffs, and placed in an MDOC transport bus with seven other prisoners. They travelled from ECF to Pugsley Correctional Facility to pick up other prisoners who were being transported to the St. Louis hub. When they arrived at MPF, Officer Siebolt went inside the facility, leaving Defendant Officer Johnson alone with the prisoners. Defendant Johnson called back into the bus, “Who is back there running their d*ck suckers?” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.2.) Plaintiff insolently responded, “Your wife.” (Id.) Johnson threatened, “Come up here an[d] say that!” (Id.) Defendant Johnson then unlocked the gate separating the cab from the prisoners. Armed with a holstered gun, came inside the prisoner area, ordered the other prisoners to the back of the bus, and punched Plaintiff in the face, causing injury and pain.

         What happened next is somewhat vaguely described by Plaintiff: “Defendant Johnson then, with no legitimate threat to his safety present and with the sole intent to inflict pain, sprayed gas in Plaintiff's face.” (Id.) Defendant Johnson then radioed the MPF staff and “falsely” reported that Plaintiff had attacked Johnson. (Id.) Johnson apparently was removed from bus detail, and he subsequently made the following report:

During an MDOC transportation detail prisoner Aljamailawi became angry upon receiving instruction from me. Prisoner spit at me striking me in the face. I raised my hands to prevent from being spit on further and I attempted to back away, however, I backed into the cage which prevented me from exiting and moving away from him (Aljamailawi). He spit at me again striking me in the head and face area as this occurred. I stepped sideways through the aisleway[.] Aljamailawi jumped up from his seat and began to rush toward me, at which time I dispen[s]ed by personal chemical agent, but not before his shoulder struck me in my chest area knocking me off balance.

(Id., PageID.3.) Plaintiff complains that Johnson's report misstates the facts and omits information.

         On October 29, 2015, Defendant Burke conducted an administrative hearing on the assault misconduct charge filed by Defendant Johnson. Plaintiff complains that he was not given 24 hours' notice, in order to prepare a defense and respond to the video and documentary evidence.

         Plaintiff pleaded not guilty and claimed that he acted in self-defense. The hearing officer reported the following statement from Plaintiff:

Prisoner said that he would like to go to court with this and talk to the state police. Prisoner said his lawyer said don't talk to anybody about it except the lawyer. I told prisoner that was his choice. Prisoner said he plea[d]s the 5th and then added he could not breath[e], that he was trying to defend himself and trying to get off the bus because he did not know what the officer was going to do to him. Prisoner said just because he said two words, he did not deserve to get punched.

(Id.). Plaintiff complains that the summary of Plaintiff's position omits Plaintiff's claim that Defendant Johnson was armed with a hand gun when he opened the cage, in violation of MDOC rules, and that Plaintiff reasonably concluded that, when Defendant Johnson reached for the pepper spray, Plaintiff thought he was reaching for the gun to shoot Plaintiff. Plaintiff contends that video and audio evidence was available. Although he acknowledges that he did not see the video, he contends that the video does not show him spitting at Johnson. (Id., PageID.4.) Plaintiff at no time denies spitting on and rushing at Johnson, but he claims that he was acting in self-defense. Plaintiff complains that Defendant Burke's summary indicates only that the video showed Johnson “moving toward [Plaintiff] where he is seated and appears to make a movement toward [Plaintiff], ” but does not say that the video showed Johnson punching Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff contends that Defendant Burke's conclusions - that (1) “any altercation that took place between the reporter and [Plaintiff] was over before the reporter backed away from prisoner toward the front of the bus”; (2) Plaintiff's “action was intentional, nonconsensual touching . . . done either in anger or with the purpose of abusing or injuring another”; (3) Plaintiff's “free will was [not] overcome because of fear”; and (4) Plaintiff “choices to stand up and charge the reporter” - were arbitrary, capricious, and unsupported by the evidence. (Id., PageID.5.)

         Based on his conclusions about the evidence, Defendant Burke found Plaintiff guilty of the misconduct and sanctioned him to 30 days' loss of privileges and 10 days' detention, with no credit for the 7 days served prior to the hearing. Plaintiff argues that the guilty finding is inconsistent with the fact that the ...

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