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Hooks v. Atoki

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

June 4, 2019

KAYODE ATOKI, [1] Defendant.



         This matter comes before the Court for review of the Sixth Supplemental Report and Recommendation [Doc. No. 184] issued by United States Magistrate Judge Gary M. Purcell pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C). Judge Purcell recommends that Defendant Kayode Atoki's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 147] be granted. Plaintiff has filed an Objection [Doc. No. 187] and has made other filings since Judge Purcell issued his Report. All timely filings will be considered. The Court must “make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made” and “may accept, reject or modify, in whole or in part, the findings and recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3).

         Plaintiff, a state prisoner appearing pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to recover damages for alleged constitutional violations that occurred during his pretrial detention at the Oklahoma County Detention Center or jail. Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Atoki is based on a physical attack of Plaintiff by other jail inmates on October 5, 2016. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Atoki failed to intervene in a timely manner to prevent Plaintiff from being seriously injured during the attack. Defendant Atoki seeks summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff cannot establish his liability under § 1983 for injuries inflicted by another person. For reasons fully explained in the Report, Judge Purcell finds that Defendant Atoki is entitled to summary judgment in his favor.

         Undisputed Facts

         Plaintiff does not disagree with Judge Purcell's statement of undisputed facts or summary of the record evidence. Briefly stated, Plaintiff was physically attacked during recreation time in a fourth floor unit of the jail that housed pretrial detainees, known as the Adam or A pod. Defendant Atoki was the fourth floor unit manager; he managed all fourth floor pods and had an office located outside of A pod. Plaintiff was attacked while standing in line to order commissary items at an electronic screen located in front of and below the pod office. Surveillance cameras recorded images of the attack, but the video recordings provide limited views of what happened.

         Defendants have submitted copies of video clips from four different cameras located in A pod for a 10-minute period beginning at approximately 9:40 a.m., shortly before the attack began with a blow to Plaintiff's head, and ending after Plaintiff was removed from the pod on a gurney. The attack itself spanned slightly less than a minute (9:42:04 to 9:42:46), but involved multiple inmates stomping with their feet on Plaintiff's head as he lay unconscious on the floor. An officer in the pod office can be seen observing the situation through the window about halfway through the attack (9:42:28 to 9:42:35), leaving the window for a few seconds (9:42:35 to 9:42:41), and then returning to witness an inmate deliver five more blows (9:42:41 to 9:42:46). The pod officer in the video (who appears Caucasian) was not Defendant Atoki (who is African-American). The role of the employee stationed in the pod office was limited to monitoring the pod from behind the window and summoning assistance; the individual was not allowed to enter the pod without backup, regardless whether he or she was a trained detention officer.

         Defendant Atoki entered the camera view less than 20 seconds after the pod officer temporarily left the office window (presumably to request assistance); he was accompanied by two other officers. Defendant Atoki walked around the corner from where Plaintiff lay on the ground (9:42:54), started toward a flight of stairs, then appeared to see Plaintiff's body and approached him, appeared to radio for assistance, then went up the stairs, returned with an inmate in handcuffs, and exited the pod.[2] More officers entered the pod during this time period and attended to Plaintiff's injuries until he was removed. As Defendant Atoki entered the pod, he signaled the pod officer who was standing at the office window. A reasonable inference from the timing of Defendant Atoki's entry and his gesture is that Defendant Atoki was responding to the pod officer's request to address the situation.

         Defendant Atoki has stated by affidavit that he was not in the pod office when the attack occurred but responded to a radio call from the pod officer. See Atoki Aff. [Doc. No. 147-3]. Plaintiff has stated by affidavit that he saw an African American man in the pod office during recreation time and he believes Defendant Atoki was sitting at a computer in the pod office before the attack began. See Hooks Aff. [Doc. No. 162].

         Standard of Decision

         Plaintiff does not disagree with Judge Purcell's statement of Rule 56 standards (R&R at 3-5), but challenges Judge Purcell's application of Rule 56 procedures. Plaintiff asserts that Judge Purcell erred by issuing a premature ruling before discovery issues were resolved and in failing to exercise his discretion to deny summary judgment “[i]f a nonmovant shows . . . that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition.” See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d).[3] Plaintiff contends Defendant Atoki has produced only video recordings that favor his position and he should be required to produce recordings from other surveillance cameras (such as “4A sally port and 4A hallways”) that would show Defendant Atoki's location at the time of the attack. See Obj. at 4. Plaintiff seeks to prove, contrary to Defendant Atoki's testimony, that “Atoki surely was in 4A pod office, and not in his unit manager's office.” Id.

         In a separate filing, Plaintiff also objects to Judge Purcell's Order of February 20, 2019 [Doc. No. 182], denying Plaintiff's Motion for an Order Compelling Discovery [Doc. No. 172]. See Mot. Reconsider [Doc. No. 185]. By the Motion to Compel, Plaintiff asked Judge Purcell to compel production of the “4A pod camera footage” at issue, namely, showing the interior of the pod office and views of the “4A pod sally port.” See Mot. Order Compel Disc. [Doc. No. 172]. Judge Purcell denied the motion as moot because Defendant Atoki had previously responded to Plaintiff's discovery requests by stating that all relevant camera footage from Adam Pod had been produced. Specifically, Defendant Atoki's counsel had represented that “[a]ll of the available ‘camera footage' has been produced by courtesy of the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office” and there was no surveillance camera in the pod office, in the hallway, or monitoring the entrance to the pod office. See Def. Atoki's Resp. Pl.'s Mot. Compel, Ex. 1 [Doc. No. 174-1]. The Court will separately address the procedural and substantive issues raised by Plaintiff.


         A. Discovery and Procedural Issues

         The Court liberally construes Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration as a request for review of a nondispositive pretrial matter determined by the assigned magistrate judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). To obtain relief from such an order, the objecting party must show the order “is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” See 28 U.S.C. ...

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