United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
Timothy L. Wright, Plaintiff,
Lieutenant Alfred Grant, Defendant.
TIMOTHY M. CAIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Timothy L. Wright (“Wright”), a state prisoner
proceeding pro se, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging a claim of excessive force against
Defendant Lieutenant Alfred Grant. Defendant filed a motion
for summary judgment (ECF No. 75), and Wright filed a
response opposing the motion (ECF No. 80). On April 9, 2019,
Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West issued a Report and
Recommendation (“Report”) recommending that the
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 75) be
granted. (ECF No. 83). Plaintiff timely filed objections to the
Report. (ECF No. 85).
Report has no presumptive weight and the responsibility to
make a final determination in this matter remains with this
court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71
(1976). In the absence of objections, this court is not
required to provide an explanation for adopting the Report.
See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir.
1983). Rather, “in the absence of a timely filed
objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo
review, but instead must only satisfy itself that there is no
clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the
recommendation.” Diamond v. Colonial Life &
Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note).
Furthermore, failure to file specific written objections to
the Report results in a party's waiver of the right to
appeal the district court's judgment based upon that
recommendation. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1);
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985); Wright v.
Collins, 766 F.2d 841 (4th Cir. 1985); United States
v. Schronce, 727 F.2d 91 (4th Cir. 1984).
action stems from incidents that occurred on November 22,
2016. On that day, Wright was housed in the restricted
housing unit (“RHU”) at Lieber Correctional
Institution where he shared a cell with Jonathan Arnold
(“Arnold”). (ECF No. 1 at 3-4). It is undisputed
that Defendants and several other officers deployed MK-4
chemical munitions into their cell. (ECF Nos. 1 at 4; 75-1 at
2). However, Wright and Defendant's accounts of what lead
up to the use of the chemical munitions and what happened
afterwards are quite different.
contends that Defendant approached Wright and Arnold's
cell door and asked which one of them had thrown urine on
Maintenance Supervisor Crouch. (ECF No. 1 at 4). Wright
alleges that Arnold admitted to Defendant that he had thrown
the urine at Officer Couch, and that Defendant told them that
they would not be getting a haircut or shave. (ECF Nos. 1 at
4; 85 at 2). Wright contends that he asked Defendant why he
was being punished when Arnold had admitted to throwing the
urine, and Wright had nothing to do with it. (ECF Nos. 1 at
4; 80 at 6; 85 at 2). Wright alleges that Arnold asked
Defendant to get a supervisor, and Defendant refused. (ECF
Nos. 1 at 4; 85 at 2). Wright alleges that he stepped away
from the cell door and Arnold began speaking with Defendant,
and, without any demands, directives, or warnings, Defendant
sprayed 77 grams of chemical munitions at point blank range
into the cell. (ECF Nos. 1 at 4; 85 at 3) He states that he
put his face into the toilet trying to wash the gas off his
face and out of his eyes. (ECF Nos. 1 at 5; 85 at 3).
Plaintiff contends that he was in no condition after being
maced to help Arnold. He alleges that Defendant then tried to
close the door flap, but when he could not, he left the wing.
(ECF Nos. 1 at 5; 85 at 3).
alleges when Defendant returned twenty minutes later,
Defendant and other officers began spraying chemical
munitions into Wright's cell through the flap and under
the door. Id. Wright states that he got inside his
mattress in an effort to escape the gas. Id. An hour
later, Wright alleges that Captain Jordan Williams called him
by name from the cell door and spoke with him. Id.
Being unable to resolve any issues, Williams left and
returned about ten minutes later with Warden Joseph McFadden.
Id. Warden McFadden took Wright and Arnold to a
holding cell and spoke with them. (ECF Nos. 1 at 5; 85 at 4).
Warden McFadden then told Defendant to take Wright and Arnold
back to their cell and give them cleaning supplies. (ECF Nos.
1 at 6; 85 at 4). Wright alleges that their cell had been
stripped while they had been talking with the Warden and,
that once Wright and Arnold were back in their cell,
Defendant sprayed them again with gas while they were
handcuffed. Id. Wright contends that Defendant then
turned off the water to his cell. Id. Wright alleges
that he has suffered injuries to his right eye, psychological
trauma, and mental anguish. (ECF No. 1 at 6).
contends that four separate incidents occurred on November
22, 2016: (1) the early morning macing incident which Wright
refers to in his compliant; (2) an incident at approximately
10:30 a.m. where Wright and/or Arnold threw urine (referred
to as “dashing”) on Maintenance Supervisor
Crouch; (3) an incident at approximately 3:00 p.m. much like
the early morning incident where Wright and Arnold barricaded
their cell door and, after refusing to follow directives,
were maced; and (4) an incident which led to a charge of
threatening to inflict harm based upon a Request to Staff
form sent from Wright a few days earlier which Warden
McFadden received at approximately 4:00 p.m. (ECF No. 75-1 at
4-5). Defendant acknowledges that Wright alleges that the
dashing incident occurred first, but Defendant argues that
“the sequence of these events is not material to the
summary judgment determination as [his use of] force was
justified either way.” Id.
incident report, the disciplinary report, and hearing record
state that the dashing incident occurred at 10:30 a.m. on
November 22, 2016. (ECF Nos. 75-9; 75-10). Officer Warren
Streety's Incident Report for the early morning incident
states it occurred at approximately 8:15 a.m. on November 22,
2016, and that he used 23 grams of mace. (ECF Nos. 75-7).
Defendants' incident report states this incident occurred
at approximately 7:20 a.m. on November 22, 2016, and that he
used 55 grams of mace. (ECF No. 75-6). Officer Cline
Williams's incident report states that a gassing incident
occurred at 3:00 p.m. on November 22, 2016, and that he used
43 grams of mace. (ECF No. 75-11). Further, Williams'
incident report states that Defendant and Officers Silva,
Streety, Rockefeller, and Johnson were all involved in this
afternoon incident. Id. However, there are no
incident reports in the record from these other officers
regarding an incident that afternoon.
regard to the early morning incident, Defendant alleges that
Wright and Arnold were using a sheet to keep the window flap
on their cell door open, which Defendant states must be kept
closed to ensure the safety of the RHU officers. (ECF No.
75-1 at 2). Defendant contends that Wright and Arnold failed
to comply with directives to remove the sheet from the
window, and they were pushing and hitting Officer
Rockefeller's riot shield. Id. Therefore,
Defendant states that he administered a burst of MK-4
chemical munitions into the cell. Id. at 3. He
alleges that he administered a second burst because Wright
and Arnold still refused to follow directives and pushed on
the riot shield. Id. Defendant contends that,
because Wright and Arnold continued to push on the riot
shield and refused to remove the sheet, Officer Streety
administered a third burst of the MK-4 chemical munitions.
Id. Officer Streety was eventually able to removed
he sheet and close the flap. Id. Defendant then
states that a nurse assessed Wright and Arnold and observed
both inmates walking and talking and not showing any signs of
respiratory distress. Id. Defendant alleges Wright
and Arnold had access to water in their cell. Id.
forth in the Report, Defendant has filed two videos depicting
some of the early morning events:
The first video, Exhibit S-Video 1, is seven minutes and
eleven seconds long, and it depicts the following:
Defendant appears standing in front of the camera. He
identifies himself as Lt. Alfred Grant, of the R.H.U. Unit.
He states that it is November 22, 2016, at 8:05 am. He is
wearing a helmet with a face guard that is not covering his
face. He is also wearing a black uniform with
“SCDC” written across a protective vest. He then
states that Plaintiff and Inmate Jonathan Arnold have refused
to close their flaps because they have been
“barricaded” or “tied” off. He states
that he and his team are going to secure the flaps and that
he will give the inmates one directive to un-barricade the
flap, and he and his fellow officers will then proceed to
close the flap. Defendant and Officers Streety, Silva, and
Rockefeller, see ECF No.75-4 at 1, ¶ 4, then walk to
Once they arrive at the cell, Defendant twice asks the
inmates, in a normal volume and tone, to “unbarricade
the flaps for me.” The inmates do not comply with
Defendant's directive. Almost immediately another officer
says “gas' em, gas' em, gas' em.” The