United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
R. Underhill, United States District Judge
Alexis Garcia (“Garcia”), is incarcerated at
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution
(“MacDougall-Walker”). He has filed a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 regarding
incidents that occurred at Enfield Correctional Institution
(“Enfield”) from February 17, 2016 to March 4,
2016. See Compl., Doc No. 1, at 5-30. He names
twenty-four employees of the State of Connecticut Department
of Correction and one Connecticut State Trooper as
defendants. See Id. at 1-5. For the reasons set
forth below, the complaint is dismissed in part.
Standard of Review
Section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, I must
review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of
the complaint that is frivolous, malicious, or 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
grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a
plausible right to relief. Bell Atl. Corp. 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).
February 17, 2016, Correctional Officer Lizon searched
Garcia's cell and discovered a box in the radiator that
contained numerous items of contraband including homemade
needles and sharpened tools for engraving and modifying
electronics. See Compl. at 6 ¶ 33 & Ex. 2
at 37-38. Officer Lizon charged Garcia with the disciplinary
offense of Contraband, Class A. See Id. Custody
Supervisor Scagliarini signed off on the disciplinary report.
See Id. ¶ 34. Captain Rios determined that
Garcia's presence in the general population posed a
serious threat to the security of other inmates and the
facility and issued an order that Garcia be placed on
administrative detention pending the disposition of the
disciplinary report for contraband. See Id. ¶
32 & Ex. 1 at 35-36. He directed officers to escort
Garcia to a cell in the restrictive housing unit. See
Id. ¶ 32. Garcia received a copy of the
disciplinary report later that evening. See Id.
following day, February 18, 2016, Disciplinary Investigator
Gottlieb interviewed Garcia regarding the disciplinary
report. See Id. at 7 ¶ 36. Garcia did not deny
that the contraband items belonged to him. Instead, he argued
that the items constituted Contraband, Class B items, rather
than Contraband, Class A items. See Id. ¶ 37.
Investigator Gottlieb refused to reduce the charge to
contraband B. See Id. ¶ 38. He encouraged
Garcia to plead guilty and accept sanctions of seven
days' of punitive segregation, thirty days' loss of
commissary privileges, fifteen days' loss of recreation
privileges and fifteen days' forfeiture of risk reduction
earned credit, rather than risk the imposition of more
significant sanctions if he were found guilty after a hearing
on the disciplinary charge. See Id. Garcia was aware
that a plea of guilty to a Class A offense would also result
in the loss of contact visits with his family for two years.
See Id. Garcia chose to plead guilty to the charge
of Contraband, Class A and signed the guilty plea section of
the disciplinary report in the presence of Investigator
Gottlieb. See Id. ¶ 39 & Ex. 3 at 39-40.
February 24, 2016, Garcia completed his confinement in
punitive segregation and Investigator Gottlieb escorted him
to a cell in general population. See Id. at 8
¶¶ 42-43. At approximately 1:45 p.m. on February
25, 2016, Officers Atkins and Hazelett informed Garcia that
he must accompany them to the administrative building
pursuant to the order of Lieutenant Earley. See Id.
Garcia's escort to the administrative building, Officer
Valierre informed Garcia that he would be searching his cell
and would be removing any unauthorized items. See
Id. at 9 ¶ 46. A few minutes after reaching the
administrative building, Lieutenant Earley arrived with
Intelligence Coordinator Rodriguez, Investigator Gottlieb and
K-9 Handler Jane Doe. See Id. ¶ 48. As Officers
Valierre, Atkins and Hazelett “converge[d]” on
Garcia, Lieutenant Earley ordered Garcia to place his hands
behind his back. See Id. ¶¶ 48-49. Instead
of putting his hands behind his back, Garcia attempted to ask
Lieutenant Earley some questions. Lieutenant Earley then took
a cannister containing a chemical agent out of his pocket,
assumed a “threatening stance” and issued another
order directing Garcia to place his hands behind his back to
be handcuffed. See Id. ¶ 50. Garcia placed his
hands behind his back and officers placed the handcuffs on
his wrists. See Id. at 9-10 ¶¶ 51-52.
After being handcuffed, Garcia asked Lieutenant Earley why he
was being “detain[ed]. See Id. at 10 ¶
52. Lieutenant Earley told Garcia to relax. See Id.
During Garcia's escort from the administrative building
to the medical department, officers exerted pressure on his
handcuffs causing Garcia severe pain. See Id. ¶
his arrival at the medical department, a medical staff member
evaluated Garcia's physical and mental health. See
Id. ¶ 55. After her evaluation, the staff member
signaled to Lieutenant Earley that she had cleared Garcia for
placement in the restrictive housing unit. See id.
his arrival in the restrictive housing unit, officers
subjected Garcia to a search of his clothes, body and body
cavities. See Id. ¶ 56. K-9 Handler Doe was
able to observe the search and Garcia's naked body for
approximately sixty seconds. See id.
completing the strip search, officers placed Garcia in a
“dry cell” which smelled of urine and feces.
See Id. at 10-11 ¶¶ 57-58. The toilet in
the cell, which could only be flushed from the outside, was
clogged up with “what appeared to be bio-hazardous
waste” and some areas of the walls of the cell were
covered with streaks of dried blood and excrement. See
Id. The cell was equipped with cameras that enabled
staff to observe Garcia twenty-four hours a day. See
Id. at 10 ¶ 57. After being secured in the cell,
Garcia voiced his health and sanitation concerns to
Lieutenant Earley through the cell door, but Lieutenant
Earley ignored Garcia's complaints. See Id. at
11 ¶ 59.
Earley explained to Garcia that his placement on
administrative detention was due to a mix-up or
mis-communication regarding the way that the initial
disciplinary report for contraband was handled or processed
and the type of sanctions that were imposed pursuant to
Garcia's plea of guilty to the disciplinary report.
See Id. at 12 ¶¶ 65-66. Lieutenant Earley
indicated that Warden Ford and Deputy Warden Rodriguez had
ordered him to place Garcia on administrative detention and
to “fix” the mix-up immediately. See Id.
¶ 70. Lieutenant Earley and Investigator Gottlieb also
mentioned that as of February 17, 2016, officials had become
aware that Garcia had engaged in criminal activity and had
referred the matter to the Connecticut State Police for
investigation. See Id. at 14 ¶ 83. Both
Lieutenant Earley and Investigator Gottlieb stated that the
matter was out of their hands. See Id. at 13
requested that he be permitted to contact “his then
attorney at law, James R. Hardy, II” in order to
protect his civil rights. See Id. at 14 ¶ 78.
Lieutenant Earley denied the request and indicated that he
did not think it was an appropriate time for Garcia to make a
legal call. See Id. ¶¶ 79-80.
hours after his placement in a cell in the restrictive
housing unit, Captain Rios came by and observed that Garcia
had placed a notice on the window of his cell door indicating
that he was going to engage in a hunger strike until prison
officials provided him with due process, equal protection and
access to a legal assistance and reasonable living
conditions. See Id. at 16 ¶ 94. Captain Rios
explained that only Commissioner Semple could
“re-visit” the disposition of a disciplinary
charge “with the intent to re-write mistakes and/or
produce an outside charge.” See Id. at 17
¶ 96. Although, Captain Rios was aware that neither
Warden Ford, nor Deputy Warden Rodriguez had consulted with
Commissioner Semple prior to reopening the February 17, 2016
disciplinary matter against Garcia, she took no action to
correct the situation. See Id. at 17 ¶ 97.
observing the conditions in Garcia's cell, Captain Rios
transferred him to another clean cell in the restrictive
housing unit. See Id. ¶ 98. Garcia asked
Captain Rios for permission to call his attorney, but she
indicated that she would defer to the decision of Lieutenant
Earley and denied the request. See Id. ¶ 99.
Prior to leaving the restrictive housing unit, Captain Rios
encouraged Garcia to eat some food. See id.
time later, Lieutenants Scarchilli and Montefusco spoke to
Garcia regarding his confinement in the restrictive housing
unit. See Id. at 17-18 ¶¶ 100-01.
Lieutenant Scarchilli became “agitated” when he
learned about the lack of communication among ranking
officers and Lieutenant Montefusco expressed disappointment
regarding “Top-Level Management's blatant abuse of
policy.” See id.
February 26, 2016, Intelligence Coordinator Rodriguez
directed Garcia to prepare himself for his interview with
Connecticut State Police Trooper Stebbins, escorted him to an
office and handed him a voluntary interview authorization
form to sign. See Id. at 18 ¶¶ 102-04.
Garcia signed the authorization form under protest. See
Id. ¶ 104.
Trooper Stebbins arrived at the office, he began to read the
incident report prepared by prison officials in conjunction
with the incident involving the discovery of contraband items
in Garcia's cell on February 17, 2016. See Id.
¶ 106. Trooper Stebbins indicated that Department of
Correction officials had contacted him on February 17, 2016,
but he could not explain why it had taken him until February
26, 2016 to come to investigate the incident and the
contraband items that had been discovered in Garcia's
cell. See Id. at 20 ¶ 117.
Stebbins showed Garcia a copy of a photograph of “an
item in question.” See Id. at 21 ¶ 122.
Trooper Stebbins then pulled a “plastic
instrumentality” from his coat pocket and asked Garcia
to identify it. See Id. Garcia did not answer the
question and “invoked his right against
self-incrimination.” See Id. Trooper Stebbins
stated that Warden Ford, Deputy Warden Rodriguez and
Lieutenant Earley had requested that he charge Garcia with
being in possession of “said instrument, an alleged 6
inch shank.” See Id. ¶ 123. Garcia
immediately requested permission to call his attorney or
Inmates' Legal Aid Services. Trooper Stebbins denied
Garcia's request and continued to interview him. See
Id. ¶ 124.
confronted Trooper Stebbins regarding the fact that the shank
had not been placed in a bag or a container and that Trooper
Stebbins had not worn gloves while handling the shank.
See Id. at 21-22 ¶¶ 128, 131. In response,
Trooper Stebbins asked Garcia to relate his version of the
events surrounding the discovery of contraband items during a
search of his cell. See Id. at 22 ¶ 131. Garcia
informed Trooper Stebbins that on February 18, 2016, prison
officials at Enfield had disposed of the disciplinary report
charging him with possession of contraband items, described
as homemade needles and sharpened tools for engraving and
modifying electronics that were found in his cell on February
17, 2016. See Id. at 21 ¶ 125; Ex. 3 at 39-40.
Trooper Stebbins indicated that he was unaware that a
disciplinary report had already been issued and stated that
he must speak to prison officials about the matter. See
Id. at 22 ¶¶ 132-33. When he returned to the
interview room, Trooper Stebbins indicated that prison
officials had denied any wrongdoing. See Id. ¶
requested that Trooper Stebbins file a criminal complaint on
his behalf against prison officials who had threatened him on
February 25, 2016. See Id. ¶ 135. Trooper
Stebbins denied Garcia's request and attempted to
persuade Garcia to submit a written statement admitting that
he had possessed the shank that had been found in his cell on
February 17, 2016. See Id. at 22-23 ¶¶
135-36. Garcia declined to submit a written statement
incriminating himself. Trooper Stebbins did not recommend
that criminal charges be filed against Garcia or anyone else
in connection with any of the items that were recovered from
Garcia's cell on February 17, 2016. See Id. at
23 ¶ 138 & at 28 ¶ 169.
the interview with Trooper Stebbins had ended, Lieutenant
Earley attempted to convince Garcia to sign a document
admitting that he had been aware of contraband being smuggled
into Enfield. See Id. ¶¶ 140-41.
Lieutenant Earley indicated that if Garcia signed the
document, he would either release Garcia from the restrictive
housing unit or permit Garcia to make a telephone call to an
attorney or the Inmates' Legal Aid Services office.
See Id. ¶ 142. Garcia denied any knowledge of
contraband being brought into Enfield and did not sign the
document. See Id. ¶ 141. During his meeting
with Lieutenant Earley, Garcia stated that he needed to see a
psychologist, but Lieutenant Earley ignored his request.
See Id. at 24 ¶ 143.
February 27, 2016, Lieutenant Lee spoke to Garcia. See
Id. ¶ 147. She stated that she thought “there
was a clear abuse of the policy, but that he should wait it
out because they're probably making you sweat.”
See Id. On February 28, 2016, Lieutenant Kit spoke
to Garcia and indicated that his detention in the restrictive
housing unit was “un-called for” and was a form
of retaliation. See Id. at 25 ¶ 148.
March 2, 2016, Counselor Timbro indicated that he would
attempt to convince prison officials to permit Garcia to make
a legal telephone call. See Id. ¶ 149. Garcia
did not hear from Counselor Timbro again. See id.
that day, Counselor Supervisor Bowman visited Garcia and
vowed to look into his request for a legal telephone call.
See Id. ¶ 150. Garcia did not hear from
Counselor Supervisor Bowman again. See id.
the morning of March 3, 2016, Deputy Warden Rodriguez spoke
to Garcia and informed him that it was permissible to
reinstate disciplinary charges without the written approval
of the Commissioner of Ccorrection. See Id. ¶
151. Garcia learned that Deputy Warden Rodriguez believed
Trooper Stebbins should have charged him with possession of a
dangerous weapon and that Deputy Warden Rodriguez had
recommended that Garcia be placed on administrative
segregation status at Northern Correctional Institution.
See Id. at 25-26 ¶¶ 152-53. Other prison
officials disagreed with that recommendation. See
Id. at 25 ¶ 152. When Garcia accused Deputy Warden
Rodriguez and other prison officials of engaging in reckless
and retaliatory behavior by holding him accountable for
mistakes that were made by employees of the Department of
Correction regarding the handling of the disciplinary report
charging him with contraband, Deputy Warden Rodriguez stated
that Garcia would be moved from Enfield “one way or
another.” See Id. at 26 ¶¶ 154-55.
approximately 1:10 p.m., Garcia advised Lieutenant Earley
that he had spoken to Deputy Warden Rodriguez and would be
filing a law suit over deprivations that had occurred.
See Id. at 26-27 ¶¶ 158-59. A short time
later, Garcia spoke to Lieutenant Earley and Captain Hunter
and indicated that he intended “to hold them
accountable for the series of breaks in command” in
connection with actions taken in response to the discovery of
items of contraband in his cell. See Id. at 27
March 3, 2016, Director Offender Classification and
Population Management Maiga approved the request by Warden
Ford and District Administrator Quiros to raise Garcia's
overall security level to a level 4, designated Garcia as a
high security inmate and directed Warden Ford to hold a
hearing regarding the placement of Garcia on high security
status. See Id. at 28 ¶ 166 & Exs. 8, 9 at
47-48. Warden Ford did not hold a hearing. See Id.
at 28 ¶ 166.
March 4, 2016, Lieutenant Earley and Property Officer
Valierre informed Garcia that he would be transferred from
Enfield to another prison facility pursuant to an order from
Deputy Warden Rodriguez. See Id. at 27 ¶ 164.
Property Officer Valierre stated that Deputy Warden Rodriguez
had ordered him to confiscate Garcia's Nintendo 3DS XL
game console and fourteen games as contraband. See
Id. at 27-28 ¶ 165. At approximately 4:00 p.m.,
prison officials transported Garcia to MacDougall-Walker, a
high security facility. See Id. at 28 ¶ 166
& Ex. 7 at 46. Garcia claims that prison officials at
MacDougall-Walker confined him in a restrictive housing unit.
See Id. ¶ 167.
ten days after his transfer to MacDougall-Walker, Garcia
filed multiple grievances regarding the incidents that had
occurred at Enfield in February and early March 2016. See
Id. at 29 ¶ 170 & Exs. 11-18 at 50-65. Garcia
received receipts from Grievance Coordinator Bennett for two
of the four grievances that he filed in March 2016. See
Id. & Ex. 19 at 66. On May 4, and May 31, 2016,
Garcia filed grievance appeals regarding the incidents that
had occurred at Enfield in February and early March 2016.
See Id. & Exs. 20-21 at 67-68. He never received
responses to his grievances or grievance appeals. See
February 14, 2017, at MacDougall-Walker, Garcia spoke to
Commissioner Semple about what had transpired at Enfield in
February and March 2016, after a search of his cell had
revealed items meeting the definition of contraband. See
Id. at ¶ 172. Commissioner Semple requested that
Garcia notify him regarding the individuals who were
responsible for the incidents in question. See Id.
¶ 173. Garcia wrote a letter to Commissioner Semple on
February 15, 2017 and placed the letter in the mail on
February 16, 2017. See Id. Garcia is doubtful that
the letter reached Commissioner Semple. See id.
contends that the defendants violated his rights under the
First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. In
addition, he asserts a state law claim of intentional
infliction of emotional distress. He seeks declaratory and
injunctive relief and monetary damages.
Connecticut State Trooper Stebbins
alleges that Trooper Stebbins came to interview and question
him on February 26, 2016. Garcia contends that Trooper
Stebbins attempted to persuade him to admit to having
possessed the 6-inch shank that was allegedly found in his
cell during a search on February 17, 2016. Garcia claims that
he invoked his right against self-incrimination and did not
admit to or make a statement regarding possession of the
shank that had allegedly been found in his cell. Garcia
alleges that at another point during the interview, he
demanded that Trooper Stebbins permit him to call his
attorney or the Inmates' Legal Aid Services, but Stebbins
denied the request and continued to interview him.
Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in
relevant part: “No person . . . shall be compelled in
any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”
U.S. Const. amend. V. It is applicable to state criminal
proceedings by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment. See
Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1, 6 (1964). To the extent
that Garcia is claiming that Trooper Stebbins infringed on
his right to counsel by not honoring the invocation of his
right to an attorney under Miranda v. Arizona, 384
U.S. 436 (1966),  the right to counsel during a custodial
interrogation recognized in Miranda is merely a
procedural safeguard whether it arises under the Fifth or
Sixth Amendment and a violation of Miranda rights
does not give rise to a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. See Myers v. Cty. of Nassau, 825
F.Supp.2d 359, 367 (E.D.N.Y. 2011) (“The remedy for a
violation of this right [to counsel under the Fifth
Amendment] is exclusion of any self-incriminating statements
from use at a criminal proceeding, and not an action for
damages under Section 1983.”) (citing Jocks v.
Tavernier, 316 F.3d 128, 138 (2d Cir. 2003);
Neighbour v. Covert, 68 F.3d 1508, 1510 (2d Cir.
1995); Paige v. City of New York, 2011 WL 3701923,
*3 (E.D.N.Y. 2011); McZorn v. Endicott Police Dept.,
2008 WL 163581, *9 (N.D.N.Y. 2008)). Furthermore, Garcia
concedes that Trooper Stebbins did not recommend that
criminal charges be brought against him. Nor does Garcia
allege that the State of Connecticut ever filed criminal
charges against him in connection with the items found in his
cell on February 17, 2016. Accordingly, any claim that
Trooper Stebbins violated Garcia's Fifth Amendment right
to counsel during the interview is dismissed. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
also contends that he asked Trooper Stebbins to “lodge
a formal criminal complaint” against several defendants
who had threatened him on February 25, 2016, but Trooper
Stebbins decided not to recommend that such charges be filed
by the State of Connecticut. Garcia has no constitutionally
protected right to a proper investigation. See Lewis v.
Gallivan, 315 F.Supp.2d 313, 316-17 (W.D.N.Y. 2004)
(“There is . . . no constitutional right to an
investigation by government officials.”) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted); Santossio v. City
of Bridgeport, 2004 WL 2381559, at *4 (D. Conn. Sept.
28, 2004) (“the United States Constitution does not
grant plaintiffs a right to an adequate investigation or
adequate after-the-fact punishment”) (citing cases).
Furthermore, a victim of allegedly criminal conduct is not
entitled to a criminal investigation or the prosecution of
the alleged perpetrator of the crime. See Leeke v.
Timmerman, 454 U.S. 83, (1981) (inmates alleging beating
by prison guards lack standing to challenge prison
officials' request to magistrate not to issue arrest
warrants); Linda R. S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614,
619 (1973) (“in American jurisprudence at least, a
private citizen lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the
prosecution or nonprosecution of another”); McCrary
v. Cty. of Nassau, 493 F.Supp.2d 581, 588 (E.D.N.Y.
2007) (“A private citizen does not have a
constitutional right to compel government officials to arrest
or prosecute another person.”).
the fact that Trooper Stebbins chose not to pursue criminal
charges against any of the defendants for their alleged
threatening conduct towards Garcia does not constitute a
constitutional violation. Because Garcia has no right to have
any of the defendants prosecuted for allegedly threatening
him, the allegation that Trooper Stebbins refused to pursue
criminal charges against any of the defendants for their
alleged threatening conduct towards Garcia fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted and is dismissed.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).