United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
PERCY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner
complaint of Jimmy Dean Carpenter, who challenges the
conditions of his confinement under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
For the purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the
court notes that the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed
this suit. The plaintiff has brought the instant case under
42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a federal cause of
action against “[e]very person” who under color
of state authority causes the “deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff alleges
that the defendants: (1) used excessive force against him,
(2) denied him adequate medical treatment, (3) violated his
right to the free exercise of religion, (4) tampered with his
mail, (5) denied him access to the courts, and (6) retaliated
against him for complaining about prison conditions,
contacting an attorney to pursue such claims, and filing
suit. The plaintiff having consented to magistrate
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the
undersigned has authority to enter this opinion and the
accompanying judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the
plaintiff's claims regarding the free exercise of
religion will be dismissed, and the other claims will
proceed. In addition, defendants Itawamba Count Jail and the
Itawamba County Sheriff's Department will be dismissed,
as they are not proper defendants in a case proceeding under
42 U.S.C. § 1983.
mid-2015, Jimmy Dean Carpenter was released from prison,
having completed a 20-year sentence. He was homeless for
about a week, then met an Itawamba County woman, who was ill
and elderly; she required daily care. Mr. Carpenter agreed to
provide her daily care. About seven days later, the woman
drafted a will, leaving all of her real property and
belongings to Mr. Carpenter. On August 27, 2015, Mr.
Carpenter was charged with stabbing the woman to death.
During his arrest, he was handcuffed, then held face-down on
the ground at gunpoint. The defendants tasered him repeatedly
as he lay on the ground, though he did not resist. The
officers let a K-9 unit dog attack Carpenter, who suffered
wounds “all over.” One of the officers pulled
down Carpenter's boot so the dog could inflict more
damage to his foot and ankle. Carpenter states that his
criminal lawyer, Chris Bauer, has 50 color photographs of the
wounds. Carpenter presented several such photographs at the
Spears hearing as exhibits to his complaint.
Officers Tyler Gordon, Larry Johnson, and Steven Gray beat
him and did not take him to the doctor afterwards. Most of
Carpenter's injuries occurred before he was cuffed, but
while he was face-down on the ground with his hands behind
his back. Once at the jail, the defendants placed Mr.
Carpenter in a “strap-down chair” for four days.
Carpenter finally saw a doctor on December 9, 2015. He
suffers pain and numbness in his right leg (from the ankle
up) from the dog bite. He also suffers numbness in his left
arm, where he was repeatedly tasered. He was treated with
steroids for the numbness about a year after the incident.
Carpenter also suffers from high blood pressure. When he
visited Dr. Arriolo in Fulton, Mississippi, on December 9,
2015, his blood pressure was 200/180 (extremely high). The
doctor sent him back to the jail without treating the high
blood pressure or prescribing any medication for it. The
doctor altogether stopped treating inmates at the jail a
month later. The next day, December 10, 2015, Jailer Josh
Hill found Carpenter unconscious in his cell. He was
transported to Amory, Mississippi, where his blood pressure
again measured 200/180. Injections and pills brought his
blood pressure down to about 150/130. Mr. Carpenter states
that the December 9, 2015, visit was the first medical
treatment he received while housed at the jail. He alleges
that his injuries bled for 3½ months - until treated
on December 9.
later, he was examined by Dr. Tim Evans in Fulton,
Mississippi, who told him that the damage he had suffered
from his wounds was permanent. He suffers from headaches,
ringing in his ears, and lack of sleep from the high blood
pressure, and he now takes four blood pressure medications,
though he used to take only one. He suffers from pain and
numbness in his left leg, and the defendants provided him
with pain medication for it after 1½ years. Mr.
Carpenter was diagnosed with Hepatitis C about five years
ago, and he has taken medication for it in the past. The
doctors at the time told him that if he did not take
medication for the disease that he would be dead in five
years. He received no medication for Hepatitis C until
October 10, 2016, when Dr. Tim Evans prescribed krill oil
pills. Mr. Carpenter does not believe that krill oil pills
are a valid treatment for Hepatitis C.
January 16, 2016, Sheriff Chris Dickerson threatened to kill
Carpenter if he wrote another civil lawyer, stating that, if
he filed a lawsuit, “I'll take my gun and blow your
head off.” Dickerson then intercepted a letter from
Carpenter to Tupelo attorney Jim Waide, who never received
the letter. Mr. Carpenter was placed in lockdown for about 23
months. Jail personnel continued to intercept Carpenter's
outgoing mail and some incoming mail. According to Mr.
Carpenter, jail personnel began conducting strip-searched on
inmates being released from jail - to intercept any
of Carpenter's outgoing mail. Carpenter had tried
repeatedly to have other inmates, who were leaving the jail,
to take his mail to a lawyer.
defendants would not permit Mr. Carpenter to see a preacher
for two years. On many occasions, the defendants prevented
him from attending Christian church services, and they
prevented the local preacher from visiting him. Mr. Carpenter
testified that he is not a Christian.
Russell sprayed Carpenter in the face with mace for no
reason, causing the skin on his face to peel for 14 days. The
defendants refused to provide medical care for this. Jailors
Scott Diaz and Cole Carter took four photos of his face after
the incident. Ms. Russell told Carpenter's attorney that
she sprayed him because it looked as if he would hurt himself
if she didn't. Mr. Carpenter denies this.
Russell opens Carpenter's legal mail outside his
presence. Often his mail does not reach its destination, and
two jailors (Amy Lewis and Amanda Hamm) told Carpenter that
they had seen Russell throw his and other inmates' mail
in the trash.
to Mr. Carpenter: “On a living will and testament Ms.
Sharon Johnson was murdered left me Jimmy Carpenter the land
house and everything on the property and all in the house
….” Mr. Carpenter was sued by a relative of Ms.
Johnson, arguing that, if he murdered her, then he should not
inherit any of her property. Several of Ms. Johnson's
relatives have since taken over the property and removed all
the items from the house.
Carpenter has not had a court date to face the murder charge.
He alleges that the only evidence against him is lies and
hearsay. He blames the Sheriff for permitting others to
remove items from the house and yard he believes he has
Prisons, and Sheriff's Departments ...