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Arkansas Jail Prisoner Can Proceed on Failure to Protect Claim Against Guard

Arkansas Jail Prisoner Can Proceed on Failure to Protect Claim Against Guard

by David M. Reutter

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the denial of summary judgment to a guard who was aware of a threat of harm to a pretrial detainee, but reversed as to a jail supervisor because the only evidence against him was inadmissible hearsay evidence.

Arkansas pretrial detainee Chariell Ali Glaze filed a civil rights action against jail guard Demontrel L. Childs and Lt. Gary Andrews for failing to protect him at the Faulkner County Detention Center.

Glaze was removed from his cell on March 5, 2010 to be transferred to administrative segregation for reasons that are unclear in the record. After he was moved, fellow detainee Bradley Boyce told Childs, “if you bring [Glaze] back in here, there are certain inmates in here talking about hurting him.” According to Glaze, Childs said he would “talk to the lieutenant and see what can be done.”

Later, Childs told Boyce that he “talked to the lieutenant and the lieutenant said he couldn’t do anything about it.” Boyce testified that “knowing that they have done moves like that before and moved people around on those grounds, either [Childs] is lying or he didn’t give the lieutenant all of the information.” That evening, after Glaze was returned to his cell, he was attacked by three other prisoners. He required six stitches when treated for his injuries at a hospital, and subsequently filed suit.

The district court denied summary judgment motions filed by Childs and Andrews, who then appealed.

The Eighth Circuit held the denial of summary judgment to Childs was appropriate, because his comment about speaking to a supervisor about the matter indicated he appreciated the danger to Glaze. The appellate court rejected Childs’ argument that Boyce’s failure to identify the would-be assailants allowed him to escape liability.

A jury could find that Childs failed to inform the lieutenant of the danger to Glaze because he did not want to bother the lieutenant or didn’t care what happened to Glaze. “The evidence at this stage does not foreclose either possibility,” the Court of Appeals wrote.

However, the only evidence against Lt. Andrews consisted of statements that Boyce claimed Childs had made. The Eighth Circuit held those statements were inadmissible hearsay, and absent any evidence that Andrews was actually aware of a danger to Glaze, he was entitled to summary judgment.

The district court’s order was therefore affirmed in part and reversed in part to enter judgment in favor of Andrews. This case remains pending on remand. See: Glaze v. Byrd, 721 F.3d 528 (8th Cir. 2013).


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Related legal case

Glaze v. Byrd