United States District Court, D. New Jersey
WILLIAM COOPER Appearing pro se
MCKAY, P.A. Elizabeth M. Garcia, Esq. Counsel for Defendant
Peter Farlow Sr.
VIGILANTE LAW FIRM, P.C. Jacqueline M. Vigilante, Esq.
Counsel for Defendant John Vernon
OFFICE OF CAMDEN COUNTY COUNSEL Anne E. Walters, Assistant
County Counsel Counsel for Defendants County of Camden,
Camden County Correctional Facility, Correctional Officer
Nnakuru R. Chukudi, and Warden Eric M. Taylor
HONORABLE NOEL L. HILLMAN JUDGE
matter concerns claims by Plaintiff, appearing pro
se, arising from an alleged physical assault by
three Camden County Correctional Facility
(“CCCF”) corrections officers while Plaintiff was
a pre-trial detainee. All Defendants have moved for summary
judgment in their favor on all of Plaintiff's claims
against them. Plaintiff has not opposed Defendants'
motions. For the reasons expressed below,
Defendants' motions will be granted in part and denied
without prejudice in part.
January 26, 2013, Plaintiff, William Cooper, an
African-American Muslim, was a pre-trial detainee
incarcerated at CCCF in Unit Three North when the unit was
placed on lockdown. Plaintiff observed from his cell a
corrections officer beat another inmate who was in the shower
when the lock-down was called. Plaintiff claims that he
yelled out of his cell to the corrections officer, “We
see what you are doing, ” “He is not resisting,
” and “We know who you are.” Plaintiff
claims that the officer responded, “What are you trying
to do, incite a riot?”
the early morning of January 27, 2013, Defendant corrections
officer John Vernon was informed of the incident. Vernon
enlisted Defendant corrections officers Peter Farlow and
Nnakuru Chukudi to accompany him to Unit Three North and
speak with the inmates in three cells associated with the
threats arising from the earlier incident. After entering the
first cell, the officers visited Plaintiff's cell, which
he shared with Craig Sanders. Either before or while he
opened the door to Plaintiff's cell, Vernon shouted for
the men to get up and face the wall. Sanders was on the top
bunk and swung his legs out. According to Plaintiff, Vernon
grabbed Sanders and threw him to the floor. Plaintiff claims
that Vernon beat up Sanders while Chukudi held down
Sanders's legs. Plaintiff further claims that Farlow
stood in the doorway in order to block the video surveillance
camera. Plaintiff relates that he witnessed the officers'
interactions with Sanders through a gap in the sheet he had
hanging up as a curtain covering the lower bunk.
claims that during Vernon's altercation with Sanders,
Vernon lifted the curtain on Plaintiff's bunk, pulled him
out of the bunk onto the ground, and kicked him in the back
of the head, causing his face to smash on the floor.
Plaintiff claims that Vernon then resumed his assault on
Sanders, and commanded Plaintiff to return to his bunk, which
denies kicking or otherwise interacting with Plaintiff, and
believes that Plaintiff remained in his bunk during the
entire incident. Chukudi and Farlow state that they did not
see Vernon kick Plaintiff. Plaintiff states that neither
Chukudi nor Farlow touched him during the incident. Sanders
states that he did not see Vernon kick Plaintiff, and
describes Plaintiff as having remained balled-up in the
corner of his bunk, whimpering, and never leaving his bunk
before Sanders was taken out of the cell. Sanders further
states that when he returned to his bunk after his medical
treatment, Plaintiff told him that after Sanders left, the
“officers” returned and struck him in the nose
but Plaintiff did not specify which officer or officers hit
claims that he suffered a broken nose and was bruised in the
incident. Plaintiff remained in his cell while Vernon removed
Sanders and took him to receive medical care. Plaintiff did
not seek medical attention that evening or the next day for
his alleged injuries. Plaintiff also did not file a grievance
form about the incident.
has asserted numerous claims against the three officers,
CCCF, and its warden, Defendant Eric Taylor for violations of
the 4th, 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S.
Constitution, as well as for ...