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Davis v. Adams

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

June 20, 2017

CARL A. DAVIS, ADC #141860; and MARK A. FRANKLIN, ADC #166456 PLAINTIFFS
v.
EDWARD ADAMS, DEFENDANTS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          J. LEON HOLMES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a prisoner civil rights case brought by two detainees who were housed at the W. C. “Dub” Brassell Adult Detention Center in Jefferson County, Arkansas. On June 5, 2017, all parties appeared and announced ready for a trial to the Court. After two days of testimony, the case is ready for findings of fact and conclusions of law.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Carl A. Davis is an inmate in the Arkansas Department of Correction. Before being transferred to the state prison, he was held in the Jefferson County jail. Mark A. Franklin is also an inmate in the Arkansas Department of Correction. He was held in the Jefferson County jail at the same time as Davis. Davis and Franklin, along with Percy Little, Jr., commenced this action pro se[1]by filing a hand-written complaint against Captain Edward Adams, Major Tyra Tyler, and Chief Greg Bolin in their individual and official capacities. The complaint alleged that Davis, Franklin, and Little were victims of an assault by other detainees at the jail. The complaint also alleged that Davis, Franklin, and Little informed the defendants of the danger they faced in advance of the assault, which took place on February 12, 2015. Little's claims were later dismissed without prejudice for failing comply with a Court order. Document #21. In an amended complaint, Franklin identified Judy Browley as a defendant. She was added as a named defendant, but Davis and Franklin later voluntarily moved to dismiss her as a defendant. The Court granted that motion. Document #88. The witnesses at trial were Davis, Franklin, Tyler, Adams, and Bolin. After all of the evidence had been received, Davis and Franklin moved to dismiss their claim against Chief Bolin. That motion was granted and the claim was dismissed with prejudice. Document #110. Only Davis and Franklin's claims against Captain Adams and Major Tyler remain for the Court to decide.

         THE FACTS

         Chief Greg Bolin is the chief administrator at the jail. He answers to the county sheriff but is otherwise principally responsible for the well-being of detainees at the jail. All jail personnel report to Chief Bolin. Captain Edward Adams is the detention captain and chief of security at the jail and is responsible for placement of detainees. He is also responsible for reviewing detainee grievances and administering the disciplinary court. Major Tyra Tyler is the assistant administrator at the jail. Part of Major Tyler's responsibilities include reviewing and investigating detainee complaints and managing the detainee disciplinary program. Chief Bolin, Captain Adams, and Major Tyler all have authority to move detainees within the jail.

         The jail has a written grievance policy that is provided to detainees in their handbook. The policy states that “detainees shall have the opportunity to present written grievances without punishment” and that “[w]ritten detainee grievances shall be promptly investigated, promptly answered in writing, and if legitimate, satisfactorily resolved.” At the time Davis and Franklin were housed in the jail, detainees filed a grievance by submitting a written form to a jailer at night when the grievances were collected. The grievances were then placed in a box for Captain Adams to review. Detainees were to receive a written response of the resolution of their grievance. Emergency grievances received a written response within 48 hours; all others received a written response within 10 working days from receipt.

         The Jefferson County jail has beds for 316 detainees. When a detainee comes to the jail, he is initially housed in the booking area until the jail assigns him to a more permanent area. There are “pods” lettered A through G and other areas known as Misdemeanor 1 and Misdemeanor 2. Davis and Franklin were both housed in the F-pod, the area of the jail in which the incident took place. F-pod has six cells: three cells are in a row on the ground floor and above them are three cells on an upper tier accessible by stairs. Each cell housed eight detainees. The ground-floor cells are numbered 101, 102, and 103, in that order. Similarly, the upper-tier cells are numbered 201, 202, and 203. Outside of the ground-floor cells is a dayroom with tables, a television, and a computer station, manned by a guard, that controls the cell doors. Detainees from the lower and upper tiers were not supposed to be out of their cells and using the dayroom at the same time.

         Davis came to the jail in October 2014 awaiting transfer to the Arkansas Department of Correction. He was taken from booking to the F-pod and assigned to cell 102 with Percy Little, his cousin. Franklin also came to the jail in October 2014. Unlike Davis, Franklin was a pretrial detainee waiting to face charges. Franklin was first assigned to Misdemeanor 2. He was later moved to F-pod and assigned to cell 203.

         On January 10, 2015, while Franklin was in cell 203, he was “jumped” by cellmates Marquis Johnson, Jossinni Johnson, and Corey Okey. Franklin testified that they wanted the items he had purchased from the commissary. The next day, Franklin wrote grievances regarding the incident. The grievances do not specifically identify the cellmates but state that they covered the cameras before stealing items he had purchased from the commissary. Franklin requested his property back and that he be moved to a different pod for his safety. On January 12, Franklin wrote a grievance to Captain Adams in which he named Jossinni Johnson and Corey Okey as participants in the incident. On January 15, Franklin wrote an emergency grievance to Major Tyler requesting a move for his safety because he felt retaliated against. He addressed a similar emergency grievance to Chief Bolin. Franklin was moved to cell 102 in the F-pod. He, Davis, and Percy Little were all in cell 102 at this time. After the fight on February 12, which will be discussed below, Chief Bolin granted Franklin's request to be moved to Misdemeanor 1. When Captain Adams realized that Jossinni Johnson was also in Misdemeanor 1, he moved Franklin to A-pod. He testified that he did so because Franklin and Johnson were enemies and had gotten into it before.

         Everything that follows is the lead-up to and description of a fight between detainees that took place on February 12-the incident at the heart of this case. Davis and Franklin testified that they began receiving threats from other detainees who were members of a gang. The threats were verbal as well as written. Davis is a large man. He testified that the leaders of the gang wanted him to join their gang, but he refused, so they threatened him. Franklin testified that he would receive “kites”-notes sent by detainees to each other-threatening him and Davis. He testified that the threats against him eventually ceased, and he was told that the other detainees only had a problem with Davis and no longer with him.

         The leaders of the gang were in cells in the upper tier of F-pod, but some gang members were housed in cells in the lower tier. None, however, was housed in cell 102.

         On the evening of February 1, 2015, detainees from the upper-tier cells were in the dayroom while the detainees in cells 101, 102, and 103 remained locked in their cells. It was Super Bowl Sunday. Two cameras record different angles of the pod and capture the scene. Many of the detainees who were out of their cells were sitting at or standing near the tables in front of the television watching the game. There was a single guard in the room, Deputy Johnny Dorn, who can be seen enthusiastically watching the game as well. He stood among the detainees watching the game, cheering, jumping and running around the dayroom. Occasionally he walked back to the computer station. Most of the time, however, Dorn's back was to the computer station.[2] A detainee remained near the computer station throughout the recording, even when Dorn occasionally returned. The detainee periodically reached over the station and touched the computer. Another detainee later joined him and did the same thing. Davis identified the first detainee as Sammuel Kimmons and the one who later joined Kimmons as Marquis Johnson. The jail roster shows that these detainees were assigned to cell 203 and that Johnson was supposed to be on lockdown in his cell. At least five times, a detainee can be seen reaching over the computer station and touching the computer. Davis and Franklin testified that these detainees were unlocking the lower-tier cell doors so that they could get into Davis and Franklin's cell to harm them. They testified that their door was unlocked by other detainees at other times as well.

         Dorn filed an incident report for use of force on the evening of February 1, 2015. He stated that a detainee unlocked the cell doors to 102 and 103 while his back was turned to his computer. This allowed detainee Courtland King, who was on lockdown in 103, to run out of his cell. Dorn stated that he used the amount of force needed to restrain King and return him to his cell. He reported that he then secured cells 102 and 103. Dorn did not identity the detainee who unlocked the cell doors. The recording introduced as an exhibit at trial did not include the incident reported by Dorn.

         Captain Adams testified that he reviewed Dorn's incident report and the recordings from the February 1 incident when he returned to work on Monday or Tuesday, February 2 or 3. Captain Adams was unable to identify which detainees were unlocking the cell doors. He asked two detainees mentioned in Dorn's incident report if they were responsible, and they denied it, but he did not further investigate who might be. Although his testimony was equivocal, at trial Captain Adams said that he did not discipline any detainee relating to the February 1 incident. He testified that he was unable to determine from the recordings whether the detainees by the computer actually unlocked the cell doors. However, in response to a grievance by Little on February 13, Judy Browley, Adams's assistant, wrote that the detainees involved in unlocking the cell doors on February 1 were disciplined. Davis and Franklin requested these disciplinary records in discovery, but none was produced.

         It is clear that detainees unlocked Davis and Franklin's cell door on the evening of February 1, 2015. Dorn's incident report and the testimony of Davis and Franklin are consistent in that respect. The recordings do not show what the detainees by the computer were touching or that a cell door actually opened, but it is evident that the detainees by the computer were reaching over the computer station and pressing something.

         Both Davis and Franklin testified that before February 12 they wrote grievances regarding the February 1 incident. Two grievances written by Franklin predating February 12 and pertaining to the February 1 incident were presented at trial. One was written on February 3, 2015, and the other on February 7, 2015. In those grievances, Franklin expressed concern that detainees were unlocking cell doors and requested that he be moved to Misdemeanor 1 for his safety. Davis and Franklin claim that they wrote other grievances that were never returned to them asking to be moved to a different pod because they felt unsafe. Davis and Franklin have not produced any additional grievances relating to the February 1 incident that predate February 12. Several detainees in cell 102 signed a statement after the February 12 fight saying that Little had submitted a grievance before the fight about the February 1 incident. Davis and Franklin also wrote grievances after the fight saying that they had submitted grievances about the February 1 incident before the February 12 fight. Those grievances have not been produced.

         Franklin wrote several grievances during his time at the jail that have been preserved. As mentioned above, Franklin's January 15, February 3, and February 7 grievances included requests to be moved for his safety. It is difficult to believe that other detainees in the same cell gave their grievances to the same guards for processing through the same system-grievances purportedly relating to the same issue and making the same request as Franklin's February 3 and 7 grievances-but all of them were lost except for Franklin's. Still, Franklin and Davis both have records of complaining about unreturned and unanswered grievances. Franklin has grievances predating the February 1 incident in which he complains that some of his grievances were not coming back to him. He also made a similar complaint in his February 3 grievance. Davis wrote a grievance after the fight on February 12, saying that he warned of the threat to his and Franklin's safety in a grievance on February 1. Moreover, one of Franklin's grievances that he filed on January 15, asking to be moved for his safety, was misfiled and did not receive a response until February 19, 2015.

         Davis may have written grievances regarding the February 1 incident that have been lost, but assuming that he did so changes little about what Captain Adams and Major Tyler knew. Davis testified that he did not know whether any grievance he wrote reached Adams. He testified that he never spoke to Adams about the threats, though he asked Adams to move him back to booking. Davis did not testify that he had any communication with Tyler until he wrote a grievance after the February 12 fight. In Davis's February 12 grievance, he wrote that on February 1 Marquis Johnson had unlocked cell doors in order to let Cedric Howe and Mashadric Chaney out of their cells.[3] Davis said that these detainees planned to “jump” him, Franklin, and Little.

         Captain Adams and Major Tyler were aware of the February 1 incident. Both testified that they knew about the incident within days of it happening. Major Tyler responded to each of Franklin's grievances on February 3 and 7. On the February 3 grievance, Major Tyler wrote “No, who are your enemies?” next to Franklin's request to move to Misdemeanor 1 for safety reasons. On the February 7 grievance, Franklin did not name names, but he did give additional identifying information regarding his enemies. For example, he wrote that “[t]wo of the people that jumped me [in the January 10 incident] are still upstairs and used the computer to pop my door open to fight.” He also stated that he had enemies on the lower tier, but he did not name them. Major Tyler responded to this grievance saying that “Capt. Adams advised you can either stay in F pod or move to A pod.” She testified that before she responded to the February 7 grievance that she had viewed the recordings with Captain Adams. She also testified that she knew that there were detainees in F-pod who were threatening Davis and Franklin's cell. Tyler testified, however, and Franklin confirmed, that he refused to give her the names of his enemies. Tyler testified that without names or some identifying information of a detainee's enemies, she cannot take appropriate steps to protect him. Franklin testified that he told Captain Adams the names of the detainees with whom he had fought in the upper tier, but he did not testify that he told Captain Adams the names of any detainee on the lower tier whom he regarded as dangerous to him.

         Captain Adams testified that he reviewed Dorn's incident report and the recordings from the incident shortly after it took place. Dorn's incident report expressly states that detainees unlocked Davis and Franklin's cell door. Captain Adams also testified that he knew Franklin had fought with detainees in the upper tier of F-pod on January 10. As mentioned above, when Chief Bolin moved Franklin to Misdemeanor 1, Captain Adams moved Franklin to A-pod because Jossinni Johnson was also in Misdemeanor 1 and they had fought on January 10.

         After investigating the February 1 incident, Major Tyler and Captain Adams knew that detainees from the upper-tier cells unlocked Davis and Franklin's cell. They knew that Franklin said that detainees in F-pod were threatening Davis and Franklin's cell, that he felt unsafe, and that he had previously fought with detainees from the upper-tier cells during the January 10 incident. Franklin had not, however, identified anyone on the lower tier whom he deemed a threat to his safety. The jail had a policy that prohibited detainees in the upper- and lower-tier cells from using the dayroom at the same time. And of course, jail policy also prohibited detainees from unlocking cell doors and dictated that the guard on duty was to prevent detainees from unlocking cell doors. Major Tyler testified that detainees should have been moved after the February 1 incident for their safety, but she also testified that she deferred to Captain Adams on such questions because she did not work “in the back” enough to know who is an enemy of whom. Captain Adams, as chief of security, was the officer whose duty it was to investigate the February 1 incident. He did not appear to share Major Tyler's opinion that some detainees should have been moved for safety reasons after February 1. He testified that there was no fight on February 1, that no one was hurt, “and that was it.”

         Had the jail policy been followed, the computer station would not have been left unattended and detainees would not have been able to unlock cell doors. Because the upper and lower tiers were prohibited from being in the dayroom at the same time and because detainees on lockdown are prohibited from being out of their cells at any time, the jail policy, when followed, protected Franklin and Davis from the detainees they claim threatened them on February 1.

         On the evening of February 12, 2015, a fight broke out in the F-pod. Detainees from the lower-tier cells were using the dayroom when the fight broke out. Detainees in the upper-tier cells were locked in their cells, with the exception of Cedric Howe. Howe was supposed to be on lockdown in cell 201. Somehow, he was in cell 103 and able to access the dayroom. As with the February 1 incident, two cameras recorded the event. Below is a timeline and description of the fight based on combining views from the two cameras:

10:25 p.m. The recording starts. Percy Little [Davis's cousin] is pacing and gesturing in the dayroom of F-pod, while other detainees are playing cards, watching television, talking on the telephone, and the like. Carl Davis and Mark Franklin are inside 102.
10:26:45 Little opens the door to 103. Davis testified that Little was telling Cedric Howe[4] to come out since he wanted to fight Davis.
10:26:47 While Little is holding the door to 103 open, Davis and Franklin emerge from 102. The door to 103 is then closed. Franklin stands in the door to ...

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