Carpenter v. Itawamba Co. Jail

Citation597 F.Supp.3d 977
Decision Date11 April 2022
Docket Number1:18CV146-RP
Parties Jimmy Dean CARPENTER, Plaintiff v. ITAWAMBA CO. JAIL, et al., Defendants
CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Mississippi

Jimmy Dean Carpenter, Fulton, MS, Pro Se.

Daniel J. Griffith, Katherine Mayo Portner, Mary McKay Griffith, Jacks | Griffith | Luciano, P.A., Cleveland, MS, Stacy Bowen Russell, Russell Law, Fulton, MS, for Vicky Russell, Dwight Hill, Sheriff Chris Dickerson, Tyler Gordon, Steven Gray, Larry Johnson, Jason Dickenson.



This matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner complaint of Jimmy Dean Carpenter, who challenges the circumstances of his arrest and the conditions of his confinement under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the court notes that the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed this suit. The plaintiff has brought the instant case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a federal cause of action against "[e]very person" who under color of state authority causes the "deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws." 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants1 used excessive force against him, denied him medical care, tampered with his mail, denied his access to the courts, and retaliated against him for seeking redress for grievances. The "Deputy Defendants" and the "Jail Defendants" filed separate motions for summary judgment, both groups arguing that they are cloaked with qualified immunity from suit. The plaintiff has not responded to the motions, and the deadline to do so has expired. For the reasons set forth below, the motions for summary judgment will be granted, and judgment will be entered in favor of the defendants in all respects.

Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate if the "materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials" show that "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a) and (c)(1). "The moving party must show that if the evidentiary material of record were reduced to admissible evidence in court, it would be insufficient to permit the nonmoving party to carry its burden." Beck v. Texas State Bd. of Dental Examiners , 204 F.3d 629, 633 (5th Cir. 2000) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986), cert. denied , 484 U.S. 1066, 108 S.Ct. 1028, 98 L.Ed.2d 992 (1988) ). After a proper motion for summary judgment is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby , Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986) ; Beck , 204 F.3d at 633 ; Allen v. Rapides Parish School Bd. , 204 F.3d 619, 621 (5th Cir. 2000) ; Ragas v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company , 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir. 1998).

Substantive law determines what is material. Anderson , 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505. "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted." Id. , at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505. If the non-movant sets forth specific facts in support of allegations essential to his claim, a genuine issue is presented. Celotex , 477 U.S. at 327, 106 S.Ct. 2548. "Where the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538 (1986) ; Federal Savings and Loan, Inc. v. Kralj , 968 F.2d 500, 503 (5th Cir. 1992). The facts are reviewed drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Allen , 204 F.3d at 621 ; PYCA Industries, Inc. v. Harrison County Waste Water Management Dist. , 177 F.3d 351, 361 (5th Cir. 1999) ; Banc One Capital Partners Corp. v. Kneipper , 67 F.3d 1187, 1198 (5th Cir. 1995). However, this is so only when there is "an actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts." Little v. Liquid Air Corp. , 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) ; see Edwards v. Your Credit, Inc. , 148 F.3d 427, 432 (5th Cir. 1998). In the absence of proof, the court does not "assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts." Little , 37 F.3d at 1075 (emphasis omitted).

Undisputed Material Facts

The court will separate the facts in this case into the two relevant periods – Carpenter's arrest and his subsequent pretrial detention.

Carpenter's Arrest

In his complaint, Mr. Carpenter claims that officers beat him, let a K-9 unit dog attack him, and tasered him multiple times. Doc. 1.

The Crime Scene

On August 27, 2015, at approximately 6:18 p.m., Deputies Steve Gray and Tyler Gordon were dispatched to 1260 Mt. Gilead Road because of a panic alarm at the residence.2 Deputy Gray arrived at the scene first, at approximately 6:37 p.m. Deputy Gordon arrived approximately thirty seconds afterwards.3

Deputy Gray entered the front porch of the residence and began to knock on the front door.4 He then walked around the residence.5 During his walk around the residence, Deputy Gordon noticed that the telephone service line had been pulled out of the wall on the back of the house.6 He continued around the residence, checking the windows and ultimately found a side door of the residence that was open.7 Deputy Gordon then radioed Deputy Gray and informed him of the open side door.8 Deputy Gray then went around the residence to the location of the open door while Deputy Gordon waited to enter the residence until Deputy Gray arrived.9 Deputy Gordon made several verbal announcements stating "Sheriff's Department" and there was no answer.10

He entered the home first, and moved through the kitchen to clear the hallway.11 After clearing the hallway, he looked right into the living room area of the residence and saw an elderly woman sitting in a recliner with blood all over her.12 Deputy Gordon told Deputy Gray to clear the home and radio for a medic.13 Deputy Gordon approached the elderly woman and discovered that her throat had been cut and she was deceased.14 Once the residence was cleared, the Deputies exited through the side door.15

They radioed for investigators to come to the scene.16 Mike Newlin, the Investigator on call, called Deputy Gordon, who gave Investigator Newlin a brief description of the crime scene.17 Newlin told Deputy Gordon not to let anyone enter the crime scene until he arrived and to canvas the neighborhood for witnesses.18 Deputy Gray then began to rope off the residence with crime scene tape.19 In the meantime, Deputy Gordon walked across the street and spoke with Michael Brooks, a neighbor.20 Mr. Brooks told him that, earlier that day, a white man with short blonde hair, had come to his home with a knife.21 Mr. Brooks informed Deputy Gordon that he told the man to leave.22 The man stayed on the porch briefly but then walked away.23 As Deputy Gordon and Mr. Brooks were making their way across the street, Deputy Larry Johnson arrived.24 A short time later, at approximately 7:01 p.m., Investigators Mike Newlin and Jason Dickenson arrived and took control of the crime scene.25

Investigator Dickenson escorted medic Kelly Landre into the crime scene to verify the victim's status.26 Investigator Newlin also requested that Deputies Gray and Gordon clear an abandoned trailer home located next to the crime scene.27 The Deputies cleared the trailer home and encountered no one.28

Upon returning to the scene, Investigator Newlin told Deputies Gordon and Johnson to clear the building behind the crime scene.29 As the Deputies approached the building, they noticed it was locked.30 As they turned to walk away, both men heard a voice in the woods behind the scene yelling.31 Deputies could make out the words "Lord forgive me" or "God forgive me."32 Deputies Gordon and Johnson then radioed the other law enforcement personnel that someone was in the woods.33 Upon learning that someone was in the woods, all law enforcement units on scene began setting up a perimeter.34 Deputy Gordon, then, retrieved his K-9 named Bing from his patrol car.35

Pursuit of the Plaintiff

Deputy Gordon and Bing approached the wood line, with Deputy Johnson and Investigator Dickinson.36 Deputy Gordon announced, two times, "Sheriff's department canine unit come out now or you're subject to be bit."37 After hearing no response, the Deputies entered the wooded area.38 After a brief search, the Deputies began to hear yelling again.39 Deputy Gordon then commanded that the subject come out of the woods now, and the subject ignored this command, too.40 Deputy Gordon and Bing moved in the direction they believed the subject to be.41 Deputy Gordon saw the subject at a distance of ten yards away and, again, commanded Carpenter42 to "get on the ground" and to show his hands.43 As Deputy Gordon began to get closer, he continued to give Carpenter commands and warning him that noncompliance would result in getting bitten.44 Carpenter, however, refused to put his hands higher than his waist, positioned his body away from Deputy Gordon in an aggressive manner, said "you better not sick that dog on me," and started backing away.45

In the meantime, Deputy Gray and Captain Jimmy Sartin moved down a logging road to intercept Carpenter in case he left the wooded area.46 Moments later, Deputy Gray and Captain Sartin heard Deputy Gordon and Deputy Johnson giving loud verbal commands to Carpenter.47 Deputy Gray and Captain Sartin moved towards the voices.48 Deputy...

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