United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
Michael L. Williams, Plaintiff,
Tony Ward, Defendant.
TIMOTHY M. CAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Michael L. Williams, a state pretrial detainee proceeding pro
se, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
seeking monetary damages (ECF No. 1-1). This matter is before
the court on Defendant's motion for summary judgment.
(ECF No. 15). Plaintiff filed responses in opposition to the
motion (ECF Nos. 30 and 33), and Defendant filed a reply (ECF
No. 31). In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and
Local Civil Rule 73.02, D.S.C., this matter was referred to a
magistrate judge for pretrial handling. The magistrate judge
issued a Report and Recommendation (“Report”) in
which he recommended that Defendant's summary judgment
motion be granted. (ECF No. 36). Plaintiff timely filed
objections. (ECF No. 38). Defendant filed a reply to
Plaintiff's objections. (ECF No. 40).
magistrate judge makes only a recommendation to the court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71
(1976). The court is charged with making a de novo
determination of those portions of the Report to which
specific objection is made, and the court may accept, reject,
or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the
magistrate judge, or recommit the matter with instructions.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) (1).
court is obligated to conduct a de novo review of every
portion of the magistrate judge's report to which
objections have been filed. See Id. However, the
court need not conduct a de novo review when a party makes
only “general and conclusory objections that do not
direct the court to a specific error in the magistrate's
proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of a timely filed, specific objection, the magistrate
judge's conclusions are reviewed only for clear error.
See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins.
Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).
Report summarizes the facts and procedural background. (ECF
No. 36 at 2-4). Briefly, at the time of the incidents alleged
in the Complaint, Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the
Lexington County Detention Center. (ECF No. 15-1). Defendant
was a sergeant with the Lexington Country Sheriff's
Office. Id. at 1. Defendant considered Plaintiff a
“high risk” detainee (ECF No. 15-2 at 3) because
he had been found in possession of homemade knives a few days
before this incident. (ECF No. 15-2 at 3). Plaintiff does not
deny that SWAT officers were called to the detention center
when he was previously found to have makeshift weapons.
Plaintiff also had previously threatened staff members at the
February 15, 2017, Plaintiff was in the dayroom area of the
detention center and told officers that he did not intend to
return to his cell. Plaintiff admits that he then obtained
possession of a mop stick and spray bottle of cleaner,
although he alleges that he later discarded these items and
put his hands in the air. Plaintiff does not deny that
Defendant, who was the supervising officer during the
incident, ordered him to lie down and that Plaintiff refused
to do so. Plaintiff alleges that one of Defendant's
subordinates attempted to shoot him in the back with a Taser,
which caused Plaintiff to retrieve a rubberized shower
curtain to defend against use of the Taser. Several officers
entered the area with a shield and knocked him to the ground
but were unable to handcuff him or control him. Defendant
then used his Taser on Plaintiff's thigh and calf for 5
seconds and ordered him to roll over and allow officers to
secure him with handcuffs. When he failed to do so, Defendant
used the Taser on Plaintiff for 5 more seconds. Officers were
then able to put Plaintiff in handcuffs and place him in a
restraint chair. He was subsequently seen by medical
personnel and treated for minor injuries. Plaintiff alleges
that Defendant's use of the Taser constituted
unconstitutionally excessive force as well as assault and
battery under state law. Plaintiff further alleges that
Defendant's application of force was racially motivated.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate only “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In deciding whether a genuine issue of
material fact exists, the evidence of the non-moving party is
to be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn
in his favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). However, “[o]nly disputes
over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under
the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary
judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary
will not be counted.” Id. at 248. A litigant
“cannot create a genuine issue of material fact through
mere speculation or the building of one inference upon
another.” Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214
(4th Cir. 1985). “Where the record taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party, disposition by summary judgment is
appropriate.” Monahan v. Cty. of Chesterfield,
95 F.3d 1263, 1265 (4th Cir. 1996).
magistrate judge recommends that the court grant summary
judgment in favor of Defendant. In his Report, the magistrate
judge concluded that there was no genuine issue of material
fact regarding whether Defendant's use of the Taser was
objectively reasonable under the considerations set forth in
Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2472-73
(2015). (ECF No. 36 at 5-6). The magistrate judge found no
evidentiary support for Plaintiff's claim that the
Defendant's use of the Taser was driven by racism.
See Id. at 6. Moreover, the magistrate judge
concluded that Defendant was entitled to qualified immunity
based on Plaintiff's failure to show that Defendant
violated his clearly established constitutional rights.
See Id. at 5-6. Finally, the magistrate judge
recommended that, under 28 U.S.C. § 1367, this court
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any state
law claim asserted by Plaintiff, including assault and
battery. (ECF No. 36 at 7).
Plaintiff's objections “direct the court to a
specific error in the magistrate's proposed findings and
recommendations.” Orpiano, 687 F.2d at 47.
Plaintiff's objections simply elaborate on his claims. In
particular, Plaintiff continues developing his theory that
all of Defendant's actions were caused by racial animus.
In this context, however, “the question is whether
[Defendant's] actions [were] ‘objectively
reasonable' in light of the facts and circumstances
confronting [him], without regard to [his] underlying
intent or motivation.” See Graham v.
Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 397 (1989) (emphasis added). In
his objections, Plaintiff also makes numerous additional
general allegations regarding various violations and
indignities he allegedly suffered at the detention center.
These additional allegations are new grounds for relief, and
this court does not have a duty to review newly raised issues
in objections to a Report and Recommendation from a
magistrate judge. See Samples v. Bullard,
860 F.3d 266, 275 (4th Cir. 2017). And, in any
event, Plaintiff does not specifically allege that Defendant
was involved in any of the newly-raised purported incidents.
The court has carefully reviewed the Report in light of
Plaintiff's objections and finds no reversible error.
on the foregoing, the court adopts the Report (ECF No. 36)
and incorporates it herein. Therefore, Defendant's Motion