The opinion of the court was delivered by: THOMAS J. MCAVOY
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER
New York State prison inmate Taleek Boyd brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the defendants seeking compensation for damages arising out of events which occurred on May 30, 1990, at Coxsackie Correctional Facility. Plaintiff alleges that on May 30, 1990, he was subjected to excessive force during an altercation with prison guards in violation of his rights secured by the Eighth Amendment. The matter was tried to the bench in Albany, N.Y. on December 16 and 17, 1993. The following constitutes the court's findings of fact and conclusions of law as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 52.
A. Operative Events of May 30, 1990
At trial, the plaintiff testified as to his version of the events that took place on May 30, 1990. From this testimony it appears that on the morning of May 30, 1990, the plaintiff requested recreation time later in the day. In accordance with the correctional facilities policies, the plaintiff was required to surrender his sneakers to a guard prior to being allowed out for recreation so that the guard could inspect them for contraband. It is the plaintiff's testimony that he adhered to this rule and defendant Selmer inspected his sneakers and then placed them on the ground in front of plaintiff's cell.
Sometime after the sneakers were placed on the ground and defendant Selmer left the area, an inmate across the corridor from the plaintiff tried to procure the plaintiff's sneakers through a technique known as "fishing". Upon seeing this other prisoners attempt to obtain his sneakers, plaintiff called for the assistance of defendant Selmer. Defendant Selmer responded and plaintiff indicated that he wanted his sneakers placed back within his cell. Selmer instructed plaintiff that he would give back his sneakers but reminded him that the facility had a policy that required an inmates sneakers to be placed outside his cell prior to the inmate being allowed to proceed to recreation. Failure to abide by this rule would result in the inmate losing his recreation privileges for that day. It is here that the two parties versions diverge.
The plaintiff testified that after a verbal argument with defendant Selmer, which lasted approximately one minute, defendant Selmer left the area and returned to plaintiff's cell accompanied by defendant correction officers Steven Boyd, William Lotano, and Sergeant Wayne Ross. The plaintiff avers that the correctional officers ordered him to place his arms through the "feed-up" flap. When the plaintiff complied with the order, the defendants grabbed hold of his arms and beat him with their batons. The plaintiff recalls that the beating lasted for approximately 15 to 20 seconds and consisted of approximately 50 blows to the arm and wrist area.
After this initial beating with the batons, it is the testimony of the plaintiff that defendant Selmer then "slammed" closed the "feed-up" flap. This action resulted in the plaintiff's right index finger becoming lodged between the "feed-up" flap and the cell door. In order to extricate his finger, the plaintiff was forced to pull his finger with such force that his right index fingernail was torn off and the proximal phalanx was fractured. After the incident, the plaintiff was taken to the infirmary and given the appropriate medical treatment.
Defendants' version, not surprisingly, was markedly different than that of the plaintiff. As previously stated, the two parties agree about the course of events up to the point where defendant Selmer was called back to plaintiff's cell. At trial, defendant Selmer testified that upon returning to the plaintiff's cell, the two parties began to argue. This argument escalated when Boyd made an attempt to grab correctional officer Selmer by the arms and pull him through the open "feed-up" flap of his cell. Unsuccessful in this effort, Boyd then proceeded to grab at Selmer's groin area. Selmer reacted to these actions by placing Boyd in a bent-wrist hold and ordered him to place his hands back inside his cell. Boyd refused to comply and continued to struggle with Selmer.