United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
Timothy M. Cain, United States District Court Judge.
Timothy Lee Wright (“Wright”), a state prisoner
proceeding pro se, brought this 42 U.S.C. §
1983 action against Defendants Sergeant Travis Guess
(“Guess”) and Officer Joshua Silva
(“Silva”) (collectively “Defendants”)
alleging that they violated his constitutional rights. (ECF
No. 1). Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment (ECF
No. 52), and Wright filed a response in opposition (ECF No.
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and District of South Carolina
Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2), this case was referred to a
magistrate judge for all pre-trial proceedings. This matter
is now before this court on the magistrate judge's Report
and Recommendation (“Report”), recommending that
the court grant Defendants' motion for summary
judgment.(ECF No. 63). The magistrate judge alerted
Wright of his right to file objections to the Report.
Id. at 12. Wright filed timely objections (ECF No.
65), and this case is now ripe for review.
an inmate with South Carolina Department of Corrections
(“SCDC”), alleges that, on October 20, 2016, he
was sleeping when Defendant Guess came to his cell at Lieber
Correctional Institution (“LCI”) and told
Wright's cellmate to pack up because he was moving cells.
(ECF No. 1 at 7). Wright states that Officer Robinson then
told him that he would not like who they were going to place
in the cell with him and that it was someone the officers
knew Wright was “beefing with.” Id.
Wright claims that after learning the identity of his new
cellmate, he asked to speak with the supervisor, and Officer
Robinson said he would let the supervisor know. Id.
states that about an hour went by before Defendants Guess and
Silva approached his cell and told him to come to the door.
Id. Defendants Guess and Silva then allegedly asked
Wright what the problem was between Wright and his new
roommate (“Tate”). Id. While they were
talking, Wright states that other officers began walking Tate
towards the door. Id. Wright says Defendant Guess
ordered that he turn around to get cuffed, and that he did so
“without any problems or responses.” Id.
at 8. However, once his back was turned, Wright states that
Defendant Guess asked Wright what the problem was and then
called Wright by his nickname. Id. Wright states
that he attempted to turn back around to face Defendants, and
Defendant Silva sprayed gas in Wright's face and on his
upper body. Id. Wright states that he ran to the
sink and tried to wash the gas off and that he yelled to
Silva that he did not do anything to deserve to be gassed.
Id. Wright states that while he was washing off the
gas, Defendant Guess sprayed Wright with gas two more times.
Id. Wright contends that the officers then slammed
the door flap closed and left him inside for thirty minutes.
Id. Wright claims that the Defendants then came back
and asked if he was going to get cuffed. Id. Wright
was handcuffed, and Tate was moved into the cell.
Id. Wright alleges that within an hour, Tate
attempted to commit suicide. Id.
contends that he was alone in his cell when the events
occurred and that he committed no wrongdoing. (ECF No. 1-3 at
1). He states that he never assaulted an officer or another
inmate on that date and did not refuse to obey a lawful
direct order. Id. at 2.
other hand, Defendants state that Wright was gassed because
he presented an “officer safety” issue during the
placement of a prisoner. (ECF No. 52-1 at 2). They state that
the gas was used “in an attempt to restore order and
discipline.” Id. Defendants state that they
needed to handcuff Wright before they could open the door to
place the new inmate in the cell. Id. Defendants
contend that Wright did not want Tate in the cell because
Wright claimed he would harm Tate. Id. Defendants
state they directed Wright to come to the door to be
handcuffed, but he refused, walked towards the back of his
cell, grabbed a blanket, and covered his head
“evidently anticipating that his non-compliance would
lead to the use of chemical munitions.” Id.
Defendants state that after Wright refused to obey orders,
Defendant Silva sprayed a burst of MK-4 chemical munitions
into the cell. Id. at 3. Defendants state that
Wright was then told over ten more times to come to the door
and get cuffed, but he refused. Id. Defendants
allege that Wright was warned that chemical munitions would
be used if he continued to refuse, but he still refused.
Id. Defendant Guess sprayed a burst of MK-9 chemical
munitions into the cell. Id. When Wright still
refused to be cuffed, the officers left the cell, and Guess
assembled a Force Cell Movement Team to assist. Id.
When the team assembled outside of the cell, Wright complied
and was handcuffed. Id. Tate was placed in the cell.
Id. According to the Defendants, Wright refused
medical treatment, but the nurse noted that Wright displayed
no signs of respiratory distress and appeared to be in good
noted in the Report, Defendants filed two videos depicting
some of the events. The first video, Exhibit K-Video 1, is
six minutes and eighteen seconds long, and it depicts the
following. At the start of the video, Wright can be seen
standing at the door of the cell with the officers. The
officers tell him to turn around. Wright then walks away
backwards. At eleven seconds in, one of the officers says,
“Come get cuffed.” A second later, Wright grabs a
blanket from the top of his bunk and places it over his head.
While Wright was still placing the blanket over his head, the
officer again says, “come get cuffed sir.” One
second later, one of the officers sprays a burst of chemical
munitions into the cell. The officer then closed the flap to
minute later, the officers opened the flap and then
immediately closed the flap. Through the closed flap, an
officer tells Wright to turn around. Wright can be heard
coughing through the door. The officer opens the flap and
says, “Come get cuffed sir.” When Wright does not
comply, the officer repeats his order. Wright walks away to
the back of the cell.
the next minute, the officers order Wright to come be cuffed
five more times. Wright is continuously coughing through this
minute. At three minutes and forty-one seconds into the
video, one of the officers says, “Only one more
directive.” However, no further directive is heard on
the video before another spray of chemical munitions enters
the cell ten seconds later.
the second spray, the officers close the flap. Coughing can
be heard from both Wright and the officers. The officers open
the flap a minute and a half later and ask Wright if he will
come get cuffed now. Wright stays facing away from the camera
with a sheet on his head. At that time, Defendant Guess faces
the camera, identifies himself, and says he is going to get a
team together to get Wright cuffed. (ECF No. 52-12); Exhibit
second video is eight minutes and twenty seconds long, and
depicts the following. At the beginning of the video,
Defendant Guess introduces himself and explains that Wright
has refused to get cuffed. He states that the officers had
sprayed gas twice into the cell that morning and that he has
now assembled a team. The officers introduce themselves,
though much of the introductions are inaudible. There is a
registered nurse on the team.
team reaches Wright's cell at one minute and fifty
seconds into the video. At two minutes and twenty-eight
seconds, Wright comes to the cell door with one hand
shielding his eyes and one hand holding a white fabric over
his mouth and nose. Wright complies with the officers'
orders and is cuffed. Throughout this time, there is
continuous coughing by both Wright and the officers. At three