Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Jail Guards Get Qualified Immunity for Beating, Pepper Spraying Prisoner Who Commits Suicide

The decedent was arrested for public intoxication; there was a fight when he was booked, resulting in his being sprayed with pepper spray or other chemical restraint. The officers carried him to a cell and sprayed him again. Later, another officer told him to quiet down or he would "get some more," and then several officers went back to the cell "where another fight occurred" and the plaintiff was sprayed again. After that, nobody paid attention to him for the next three hours, and he hanged himself.

Significant injury is not required to sustain a claim of excessive force. Actual injury is required, and is supplied by the existence of a small cut of the eyelid and small scrapes of the knee and calf. The court does not discuss whether being repeatedly sprayed with chemical agents is an injury.

The defendants are entitled to qualified immunity for the plaintiff's suicide because there is no evidence showing that they were actually and subjectively aware of the risk of suicide. See: Lambert v. City of Dumas, 187 F.3d 931 (8th Cir. 1999).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Lambert v. City of Dumas