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Williams v. Hadlenwang

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

October 15, 2014



G. R. SMITH, Magistrate Judge.

Proceeding pro Se, inmate Persheen Dejaniero Williams brings this presumed civil rights case (he does not use a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 form complaint, much less identify any particular claim) against Officer Raymond Haldenwang and Officer Michael Foran. Doe. 1.[1] Plaintiff does not say what jurisdiction those officers hail from, but he complains of excessive force in conjunction with a stop, if not an arrest. Williams claims that Foran approached him while he stood outside his vehicle on a Thunderbolt, Georgia street and directed him to show his driver's license and proof of insurance. Id. at 3. Williams asked if there was a problem; Foran replied no. While Williams retrieved his documents, Haldenwang approached and asked him what he was doing.

Plaintiff explained what he had been asked to do, but Haldenwang told him to move to the back of the car, then shov[ed] him against the trunk of the vehicle. After shoving him, Haldenwang then grab[bed] the plaintiff[']s arm [and] abruptly pushe[d] him harder against the vehicle. The plaintiff ask[ed] if there was a problem and as he turn[ed] his head he [was] struck in the mouth by Hald[en]wang. Plaintiff yell[ed] wh[y] did you hit me? Haldenwang then grab[bed] plaintiff[, threw] him to the ground, [and] proceed[ed] to strike him over and over again. Plaintiff scream[ed] for help and for [defendant Haldenwang] to please stop. Foran join[ed] in and began [an] additional assault on [Williams]. Both officers used fists, batons and finally stun guns repeatedly, thereby causing severe injuries. Plaintiff did not resist or obstruct this attack. Plaintiff's female acquaintance, Maria Mcneill, was present during this incident, but was detained by Foran before he aided Haldenwang in the assault. David Boone... of Depositos restaurant[, ] also witnessed the officers standing above the plaintiff in strking poses as he lay on the ground.

Id. at 3-4.

Plaintiff seeks damages for a legal claim he does not identify. Doc. 1 at 5. Since he is proceeding pro Se, the Court will construe his pleadings liberally but not raise and litigate claims for him.[2] To that end, some bright legal lines exist in this area. A warrantless arrest made without probable cause violates the Fourth Amendment. One thus can sue the police for that under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. But an arrest made with probable cause constitutes an absolute bar to a § 1983 action for false arrest. See Ortega v. Christian, 85 F.3d 1521, 1525 (11th Cir. 1996). Williams seems to claim that he was warrantlessly arrested without probable cause. Yet, he never formally pleads that, much less expresses any specific Fourth Amendment or other claim.

He also seems to allege an excessive-force claim under the Fourth Amendment. Here the courts have also drawn bright lines that police cannot cross. See Runge v. Snow, 514 F.Appx. 891, 894 (11th Cir. 2013) (the unnecessary use of force when a criminal suspect is detained and not resisting arrest constitutes excessive force); Huger v. Velazquez, 463 F.Appx. 847, 849 (11th Cir. 2012) (officers were not entitled to qualified immunity when they slammed a handcuffed woman against a wall and then continued to cause her harm once she fell to the floor); Lee v. Ferraro, 284 F.3d 1188, 1198 (11th Cir. 2002) (police used excessive force when an already handcuffed woman was slammed against her car); Wilson v. Price, 2014 WL 2895855 at * 3 (N.D.Ga. Feb. 26, 2014). These cases demonstrate that police must apply reasoned restraint and common sense when using force against others.[3]

Although plaintiff has set forth no specific claim, what he has pled suggests he may be able to plead enough facts to support warrantless arrest and excessive force claims. The Court thus will give him a second chance.[4] Within 30 days of the date this Order is served, plaintiff must file an Amended Complaint specifying what legal claims he wishes to raise in this case. Failure to comply with this Order will result in a recommendation that his case be dismissed.

Finally, Williams must pay his filing fee. His furnished account information shows that he has averaged $14.91 in his prison account during the past six months. Doc. 5. He therefore owes a $2.98 partial filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) (requiring an initial fee assessment "when funds exist, " under a specific 20 percent formula). His custodian (or designee) therefore shall remit that to the Clerk of Court (payable to the "Clerk of Court") plus 20 percent of all future deposits to his account, forward those additional funds to the Clerk each time the set aside amount reaches $10.00, until the balance of the Court's $350.00 filing fee has been paid in full.

Also, the Clerk is DIRECTED to send this Order to plaintiffs account custodian immediately. In the event plaintiff is transferred to another institution, his present custodian shall forward a copy of this Order and all financial information concerning payment of the filing fee and costs in this case to plaintiffs new custodian. The balance due from the plaintiff shall be collected by the custodian at his next institution in accordance with the terms of this Order.


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