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Al-Bukhari v. Department of Correction

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 9, 2016



Stefan R. Underhill, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Ja-Qure Al-Bukhari, currently incarcerated at Cheshire Correctional Institution in Cheshire, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the defendants violated his rights under the First, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., by, inter alia, breaching a prior settlement agreement and subjecting him to excessive force, cruel and unusual punishment, and denial of medical and mental health needs. Al-Bukhari names as defendants the Department of Correction, Warden Scott Erfe, Captain Jesse Johnson, and Corrections Officers Daniel Phillips, Jeremie St. Pierre, Ryan Baron, and James Vesser. The complaint was received by the Court on March 2, 2016. Al-Bukhari’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on April 1, 2016.

Under section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, the Court must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a right to relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, it is well-established that “[p]ro se complaints ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.’” Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).

I. Allegations

Al-Bukhari alleges that the following incidents underlying this action occurred while he was confined at the Cheshire Correctional Institution.

A. Mental Illness

Al-Bukhari has been diagnosed with several mental disorders including bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyper-activity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, paranoid disorder, and antisocial personality disorder with narcissistic and borderline traits. He has taken medication to treat these disorders since childhood.

B. Placement in Disciplinary Seclusion

On November 17, 2015, defendant Johnson placed Al-Bukhari in disciplinary seclusion following his receipt of a false disciplinary charge for security tampering. The charge was later dismissed. The defendants did not attempt mental health intervention before subjecting him to confinement in disciplinary seclusion.

While in disciplinary seclusion, Al-Bukhari asked for his Quran, prayer rug and other Islamic reading material. He required these materials to make his daily prayers. Defendant Johnson denied the request. Al-Bukhari’s mental health deteriorated and he began to “act up.”

C. Placement in Restraints

On November 19, 2015, defendant Johnson ordered Al-Bukhari placed on in-cell restraint status because he was acting up. Defendants Johnson, Phillips, St. Pierre, Baron, and Vassar entered Al-Bukhari’s cell and told him that he would be placed on in-cell restraints. When he refused to submit to the restraints, defendant Johnson sprayed Al-Bukhari with a chemical agent. Defendant Johnson sprayed him directly in the face from about a foot away. After deploying the chemical agent, defendant Johnson immediately struck Al-Bukhari in the head with his radio. Defendants Phillips, St. Pierre, Baron, and Vassar also began beating Al-Bukhari, who fell to the floor and tried to cover his head with his arms and hands. Defendants Johnson, Phillips, St. Pierre, Baron, and Vassar kicked and punched Al-Bukhari in the head, arms, legs, and back.

Al-Bukhari was handcuffed with his hands behind his back while he was on the floor. Defendant St. Pierre or defendant Baron placed Al-Bukhari’s right knee in a submission hold and executed a twisting motion, causing injuries to the knee. The defendants failed to properly decontaminate Al-Bukhari. They forced his head under hot water, which exacerbated the burning sensation on his face. Although a hand-held camera was present, defendant Johnson did not permit the operator to turn on the camera until after the beating was over.

Defendants Phillips, St. Pierre, Baron, and Vassar applied in-cell restraints consisting of handcuffs and leg shackles connected with a tether chain. After he was placed in the restraints, Al-Bukhari threatened self-harm by banging his head on the cell doors, walls, and restraints. Defendant Johnson then ordered Al-Bukhari placed in four-point restraints to deny him access to the doors and walls. Once in four-point restraints, Al-Bukhari began banging his head on the hard surface of the bunk, causing the back of his head to ...

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