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Willis v. Dewitt

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 19, 2019

DONTA WILLIS, Plaintiff,



         Donta Willis, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing himself, filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, along with a motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee under 28 U.S.C. §1915(a)(1). Dkt. Nos. 1-2. This case was originally assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge David E. Jones. Not all parties have had the opportunity to consent to magistrate judge jurisdiction; therefore, the case was randomly reassigned to this court for screening of the complaint.

         Motion For Leave to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applies to this case because Plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed his complaint. The PLRA allows an incarcerated plaintiff to proceed with a lawsuit in federal court without prepaying the $350 filing fee, as long as he complies with certain requirements. 28 U.S.C. §1915. One of those requirements is payment of an initial partial filing fee.

         On April 23, 2019, Judge Jones assessed an initial partial filing fee of $74.67. Dkt. No. 5. Plaintiff paid that amount on April 29, 2019. Therefore, the court will grant his motion to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee. He must pay the remainder of the filing fee in the manner described below.

         Screening of the Complaint

          The PLRA requires federal courts to screen complaints brought by an incarcerated plaintiff who seeks relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court can dismiss an action or portion thereof if the claims alleged are “frivolous or malicious, ” fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         To state a claim, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, “that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows a court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The court gives a pro se plaintiff's allegations, “however inartfully pleaded, ” a liberal construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         Allegations in the Complaint

         On October 4, 2017, Milwaukee Police Officers Ryan Dewitt and Arttavius Bradford, and Wisconsin Parole Agents Steven Boehm and Spencer Sianicki, “attempt[ed] to make alleged traffic stop without probable cause.” Dkt. No. 1 at 3. Dewitt and Arttavius approached Plaintiff's car, while Boehm and Sianicki remained in the unmarked patrol vehicle. Id. Plaintiff spoke with Dewitt and Bradford and cooperated in answering their questions. Id. Plaintiff then interacted with Boehm and the two “beg[a]n to quarrel back and forth about the rules of [Plaintiff's] extended supervision.” Id. Boehm then went back to the patrol car to find the exact rules of Plaintiff's extended supervision. Id.

         As Boehm checked the rules of extended supervision, Dewitt ordered Plaintiff to come out of his car. Id. at 4. Plaintiff explained that he could not because of his medical condition/pain issues (in his four prior lawsuits Plaintiff explained he is disabled and needs a wheelchair). Id. Dewitt told Plaintiff that he would be arrested for obstructing/resisting an officer and asked for his cell phones. Id. Plaintiff then attempted to break one of his cell phones in half, which caused a struggle over his cell phone. Id. Dewitt and Bradford used “excessive force” to get control of both of Plaintiff's hands. Id.

         Dewitt placed Plaintiff in handcuffs and “conducted a quick pat search . . . finding no illegal substances or firearms.” Id. Plaintiff then informed Dewitt that he had cash in his underwear for safekeeping. Id. Meanwhile, Bradford conducted a K-9 “sniff” of the vehicle and attempted to remove Plaintiff's keys from the ignition. Id. At that point, another struggle began about the removal of his car keys. Id. DeWitt placed Plaintiff in a choke hold and Bradford “with closed fist, batter[ed] [Plainitff] causing injury to his feet, knees, legs, and groin area.” Id. Bradford then “reach[ed] his hand inside [Plaintiff's] underwear and illegally search[ed] and remove[d] approximately $310.00 dollars in cash from his buttocks and butt-crack area.” Id.

         After the altercation, Plaintiff needed medical attention, so the paramedics took him to the hospital. Id. at 4-5. At the hospital, medical staff “maliciously medically cleared” him. Id. at 5. Bradford and Milwaukee Police Officer Anthony Wilson then tossed Plaintiff into the back of the patrol car and took his finger prints. Id. at 5-6. At that time, Sergeant Richard Jack (not a defendant) told Plaintiff that they “towed his pink Lexus without his consent.” Id. at 6. After some confusion about where Plaintiff should be booked, Wilson and Bradford transported him to the Milwaukee Secure Program Facility. Id. Because of Plaintiff's medical condition/pain issues, he was unable to comply with the “intake process.” Id. at 7. Officers then took Plaintiff to the segregation unit pending a conduct report. Id.

         About four days later, on October 7, 2017, Plaintiff contacted the Prison Rape Elimination Act hotline regarding the police officers' behavior during his arrest. Id. Investigator Kimberly Betzhold (not a defendant) initiated a criminal and internal investigation. Id. Through the investigation, the following individuals “all gain[ed] knowledge of the police misconduct that occurred on October 4, 2017 and facilitate[d], approve[d], condone[d], and turn[ed] a blind-eye to reject [his] complaints as meritless:” Jeremy Gloudemans, Susan Bodden-Eichsteadt, Shaunta Boston-Smith, Matthew Goldberg, ...

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