United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
R. UNDERHILL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
August 6, 2019, Dustin Cruce, an inmate currently confined at
the Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut,
brought a complaint pro se and in forma
pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against five
Waterbury law enforcement officers: John Stankus, David
Andrzejewski, Fisnik Agolli, Officer Summa, and Officer
Sullivan. Compl., Doc. No. 1. Cruce seeks damages against the
defendants for subjecting him to excessive force during his
arrest. See Id. at 4-5. I will permit the complaint
to proceed against the defendants.
Standard of Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I 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. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. 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 plausible 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
approximately 1:20 a.m. on February 4, 2017, Officers Stankus
and Andrzejewski spotted Cruce walking through a CVS parking
lot. Compl. ¶ 1. Once Cruce saw the two officers, he
turned and fled, and the two officers chased him.
Id. at ¶ 2. Cruce ran alongside Exit 8 of I-84
toward the highway with Stankus and Andrzejewski in pursuit.
Id. at ¶ 3.
point during the pursuit, Officers Summa and Sullivan
attempted to cut off Cruce's path in their police
cruiser. Compl. ¶ 4. Stankus and Andrzejewski then
caught up to Cruce, who placed his hands on his head.
Id. at ¶ 5. Stankus and Andrzejewski pushed
Cruce to the ground, and Andrzejewski punched him in the
face. Id. All five defendants then began kicking and
punching Cruce. Id. at ¶ 6.
was taken to St. Mary's Hospital in Waterbury for
treatment of chest pain, broken ribs, and a laceration.
Compl. ¶ 7. Nurse Joy Benoit performed an x-ray.
Id. at ¶ 8. During the x-ray examination, Cruce
started having seizures as a result of difficulty breathing.
Id. Cruce was given 800 mg of Motrin and later
discharged. Id. at ¶ 9.
he does not clearly state his claim, it appears Cruce is
suing the five defendants for subjecting him to excessive
force during his arrest, in violation of his Fourth Amendment
protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. He
seeks damages against the defendants in their individual
capacities. Compl. at 5.
Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable
seizures prohibits the use of excessive force by [law
enforcement] officers in arresting suspects.” Orr
v. Waterbury Police Dep't, 2018 WL 780218, at *5 (D.
Conn. Feb. 8, 2018) (citing Hemphill v. Scott, 141
F.3d 412, 416-17 (2d Cir. 1998)). To state a Fourth Amendment
claim for excessive force, the arrestee must allege facts
showing that the officer's use of force was
“objectively unreasonable.” Id. (quoting
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 397 (1989)). The
“reasonableness” of the use of force must be
judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the
scene. Id. (citing Graham, 490 U.S. at
396). It “requires consideration of the severity of the
crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat
to the safety of the officers or others, and whether the
suspect is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade
arrest by flight.” Id. (quoting
Hemphill, 141 F.3d at 417).
on the allegations, Cruce has stated a plausible Fourth
Amendment excessive force claim against the defendants. He
alleges facts showing that the defendants pushed him to the
ground, punched, and kicked him after he placed his hands on
his head. I will, therefore, permit the Fourth Amendment
excessive force claim to proceed against the defendants in
their individual capacities for damages.
complaint may proceed against all five defendants in their