United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
BRANDON C. MCDUFFIE, Plaintiff,
WILLIAM SWIEKATOWSKI, Defendant.
Stadtmueller, U.S. District Judge.
Brandon McDuffie (“McDuffie”), a prisoner, brings
this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Defendant William Swiekatowski (“Swiekatowski”),
a correctional officer. McDuffie attempted suicide on
February 14, 2017 by climbing onto a ventilation duct in the
prison and threatening to jump. Correctional officers tried
to coax him down verbally but were unsuccessful. Eventually,
Swiekatowski shot McDuffie with a pepperball gun in order to
encourage him to descend.
suit, McDuffie alleges that Swiekatowski violated his rights
under the Eighth Amendment by using excessive force against
him and by acting with deliberate indifference to his serious
medical needs, namely his suicidality. Swiekatowski has filed
a motion for summary judgment as to each of McDuffie's
claims. (Docket #33). That motion is fully briefed and, for
the reasons stated below, it will be granted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that the court
“shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows 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); Boss v. Castro, 816 F.3d 910,
916 (7th Cir. 2016). A fact is “material” if it
“might affect the outcome of the suit” under the
applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute of fact is
“genuine” if “the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Id. The court construes all facts and
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
non-movant. Bridge v. New Holland Logansport, Inc.,
815 F.3d 356, 360 (7th Cir. 2016). The court must not weigh
the evidence presented or determine credibility of witnesses;
the Seventh Circuit instructs that “we leave those
tasks to factfinders.” Berry v. Chicago Transit
Auth., 618 F.3d 688, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).
is a Wisconsin prisoner housed at Green Bay Correctional
Institution (“GBCI”). At the time of the events
in question, Swiekatowski was a correctional officer at GBCI
with the rank of captain.
February 14, 2017, at approximately 5:42 p.m., the GBCI
communications center, commonly referred to as
“control, ” called for first responders to report
to the South Cell Hall. South Cell Hall consists of four
tiers: E-tier, the ground floor; F-tier, the second floor;
G-tier, the third floor; and H-tier, the top floor. Cells run
along one side of the hall, with a walkway in front of them.
There is an open space between the walkway and the wall
opposite the cells which spans the entire height of the hall.
had jumped from the walkway on F-tier onto the
supervisor's secure area, called the
“sergeant's cage, ” and then onto the
ventilation shaft which ran along the opposite wall. The
ventilation shaft was approximately thirty inches wide,
twenty feet long, and ten feet off the ground. McDuffie says he
did this because he had a mental break and was attempting to
commit suicide by jumping onto the ventilation system and
then to his death. At the time McDuffie jumped onto the
ventilation duct, many South Cell Hall inmates were returning
from the evening meal.
Timothy Retzlaff (“Retzlaff”) responded to South
Cell Hall, stood on E-tier, looked up, and talked to
McDuffie, who was on the ventilation unit directly above.
Mattresses were placed on the floor below McDuffie in case he
fell or jumped. At 5:48 p.m., GBCI nurse Steven Bost
(“Bost”) arrived to provide any needed medical
care. Other South Cell Hall inmates were walked back to the
unit and locked inside their cells in order to secure the
area, allow staff to concentrate on bringing McDuffie down
from the ventilation system, and minimize the chance that
other inmates may interfere with that effort.
also responded to the area at this time, was briefed by
Retzlaff, and then consulted with Deputy Warden Schueler
(“Schueler”) regarding the incident. They decided
to call for Sergeant Antonio Cummings
(“Cummings”) to speak with McDuffie and try to
convince him to come down. As a member of the GBCI crisis
negotiations team, Cummings has received specialized training
regarding de-escalation techniques and using negotiation to
resolve crisis situations. Swiekatowski is not trained in
reported to the South Cell Hall around 5:50 p.m. He walked up
to the F-tier walkway directly across from McDuffie, who at
that point was sitting on the duct work, and began to speak
with him. According to Cummings, McDuffie said he wanted to
kill himself because he had long sought help from
psychological services staff to no avail. At approximately
6:11 p.m., an extension ladder was placed against the duct
near McDuffie to provide him a safe way to climb down.
Cummings' initial attempts to persuade McDuffie to
voluntarily climb down lasted approximately thirty minutes.
McDuffie reports that inmates and correctional officers,
including Cummings, were able to calm him down by speaking
then came to F-tier at 6:20 p.m. to check on the progress of
negotiations. Cummings believed he was making headway, but
McDuffie appeared to change his mind when Swiekatowski
arrived. Cummings informed Swiekatowski how upset McDuffie
was, that he wanted to talk to psychological services staff,
and that he wanted to kill himself.
accuses Swiekatowski of “re-escalat[ing] the
situation” and derailing efforts to calm him down by
“making aggressive statements and verbal threats,
causing [him] to relapse into mental distress.” (Docket
#43 ¶ 14). Specifically, McDuffie avers that
Swiekatowski engaged me and after I told him I wanted to kill
myself, he became sarcastic as if he could care less [and]
then said, “ok yeah, get down.” I became agitated
and told him “you don't give a fuck if I die or
not, ” and he continued with the sarcasm before telling
me, “alright that's enough, either you get down or
I'm gonna get a ladder, come up there and make you get
down, ” which caused me to explode with emotions I
fought hard to control and told Swiekatowski to “get
psych or I'm gonna jump over the mats and kill myself,
” and Swiekatowski told me “no” and
“no one is coming, ” then walked away.
Id. ¶ 17.
then left South Cell Hall to update Schueler. With
Swiekatowski away, Cummings and Retzlaff continued
negotiations with McDuffie but, according to them, they made
no progress. McDuffie says that Cummings was trying to
reverse the “psychological damage” inflicted by
Swiekatowski but that he was too far gone into the
“stream of emotions” giving rise to his
suicidality. Id. ¶ 19.
approximately 6:35 p.m., McDuffie began banging his fist
against the ventilation system. Staff did not climb the
ladder to bring McDuffie down due to concern that McDuffie
had the advantage of being in an elevated position and could
assault officers as they climbed. Staff were also concerned
that if they were able to successfully climb the ladder, the
extra weight on the duct might cause it to
continued to reason with McDuffie to persuade him to
voluntarily climb down. Once again, his attempts failed.
Swiekatowski decided to use physical force to persuade
McDuffie to come down. Swiekatowski says he was motivated by
a need to ensure McDuffie's safety and abate the
situation, which was agitating the other inmates. McDuffie
disagrees, saying the Swiekatowski wanted to punish McDuffie
for having an episode of mental illness and for holding up
the dinner service and showers.
conversing with Schueler, Swiekatowski explained that they
were not making any progress getting McDuffie to come down
voluntarily and suggested bringing the pepperball gun as a
means to gain compliance. The pepperball gun is a non-lethal
high-pressure air launcher that fires a fragile projectile
containing a powdered chemical, called “OC powder,
” that can irritate the eyes and nose in a manner
similar to pepper spray. As a part of his ...