Dennis Ryan, Jr., as trustee for the heirs and next of kin of Jerome Deon Ladette Harrell Plaintiff- Appellant
Officer Mary Armstrong; Officer Patrick Culloton; Officer Craig Stowell; Officer Gilbert Michalski; Officer Mark Hill; Officer Joseph Klebs; Sergeant Mark Maslonkowski; Officer Adam Seifferman, individually and in their official capacity; Captain Pam Jensen, individually and in her official capacity; Stearns County Defendants-Appellees
Submitted: December 13, 2016
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - Minneapolis
LOKEN, MURPHY, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
MURPHY, Circuit Judge.
February 2012 Jerome Harrell surrendered to the Stearns
County jail in response to outstanding traffic warrants. He
was booked and held overnight. During that time he exhibited
bizarre and erratic behavior. The following morning
correctional officers decided to remove Harrell from his cell
for a medical assessment. Harrell became unresponsive during
the removal procedure and died. The trustee of Harrell's
estate sued Stearns County and various correctional officers
(collectively the defendants) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violations of Harrell's constitutional rights as well as
other claims. The district court granted summary judgment to
the defendants. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and
remand for further proceedings.
in the evening of February 23, 2012 Jerome Harrell
surrendered to the Stearns County jail in response to
outstanding traffic warrants. Although Harrell was initially
cooperative with efforts to book him into the jail, the
officer who completed Harrell's initial classification
worksheet marked that Harrell had "special needs"
and noted that he "appear[ed] high." During the
intake process Harrell also began talking about a shooting
that had occurred near St. Cloud State University a few days
before. Harrell said he "wanted to help the cops figure
[it] out" because "[the cops] think it was
him" even though he had heard the suspect in the
shooting "was wearing a face mask and that the guy had
tattoos on his hands" which Harrell did not. Harrell
also mentioned that he had just watched a documentary about
the rapper Tupac Shakur and "needed to come clean."
Based on Harrell's comments during the intake process, a
detective from the St. Cloud police department went to the
jail at 9:30 pm to meet with him. The meeting lasted
approximately one hour; officers noted that Harrell
"appeared anxious" after it.
11:00 pm that night there was a shift change for the
correctional officers. Defendants Mary Armstrong and Patrick
Culloton came on duty and were informed at the start of their
shift that Harrell appeared high and had exhibited strange
behavior. One of the duties of officers at the jail was to
perform well being checks (WBCs) every half hour on
detainees. Armstrong and Culloton observed that Harrell was
behaving oddly during their half hour checks from the
beginning of their shift. When Armstrong checked on Harrell,
she saw him "spring up from his bunk with lunging
movements and start moving his body as though he was an
animal." She also said that Harrell made "loud
howling and screaming vocals" throughout the night.
Culloton stated that Harrell also banged on his cell door.
His behavior was disruptive enough that other detainees asked
to have him moved or quieted. Neither Armstrong nor Culloton
talked to Harrell during their shift, however, nor did they
enter his cell. Although they monitored his behavior by
regular checks, they did not request any medical assistance.
They were relieved by a new shift of officers shortly before
7:00 am and reported Harrell's behavior to them.
Mark Hill, one of the officers on the new shift, checked on
Harrell shortly after he came on duty. In the course of his
checks, Hill observed Harrell "making loud howling
noises and pounding on the door." He was also
"splashing water from the sink all over the cell with a
sheet." At around the same time as Hill made these
observations, supervising officer Pam Gacke asked the
jail's medical staff to assess Harrell. Since the medical
staff believed that Harrell needed to be placed in a
restraint chair during that process, he was removed from his
cell by a team of four officers (defendants Craig Stowell,
Joseph Klebs, Gilbert Michalski, and Adam Seifermann). At the
time the team went to enter Harrell's cell, it found him
completely naked with a wet sheet draped over his head,
screaming and banging on the door. Team members made a video
of him shortly before his removal from the cell.
team's efforts to remove Harrell from his cell were
videotaped. When Gacke directed Harrell to back away from his
door and lie on his bunk, he did not comply. Then, as the
extraction team entered his cell, Harrell rushed at the first
officer. The team attempted to subdue Harrell, but he
continued actively resisting and bit one of the officers.
During this struggle Harrell was knocked to the floor, and
several officers held him down while attempting to place his
wrists and ankles in restraints. One twice used a taser in
drive stun mode.
the officers succeeded in handcuffing Harrell, they used
scissors to cut away a sheet he had wrapped around his head.
Approximately five minutes after the officers first entered
Harrell's cell, they found he was no longer responsive.
They moved him from his cell to a lower level of the jail
where staff attempted to revive him until an ambulance
arrived. Harrell was transported to the hospital where he was
pronounced dead at 10:00 am.
autopsy found no significant injury or trauma. Harrell's
immediate cause of death was described as "sudden
unexpected death during restraint." An investigator who
photographed the interior of Harrell's cell shortly after
his removal noted that "[t]here was . . . a large pool
of blood on the floor that had come from a laceration to
Jerome Harrell's head."
trustee of Harrell's estate filed this lawsuit after his
death, alleging that individual correctional officers and
Stearns County had violated Harrell's constitutional
rights with deliberate indifference to his serious medical
needs and excessive force. The individual defendants moved
for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity. The
district court granted them summary judgment after concluding
they had not violated Harrell's constitutional rights. It
also granted summary judgment on the trustee's claims ...