The claim sets forth a cause of action for battery based on an allegation that
physically attacked by correction officers on May 1, 2000 at Upstate
The elements of a claim for battery are (1) bodily contact, which is (2)
harmful or offensive and (3) made with intent (
Masters v Becker
, 22 AD2d 118).
Claimant testified that at the time of the incident he was being moved from his
cell. He maintains that he was standing inside the cell with his back to the
closed door in accordance with the procedure. According to Claimant, when the
cell door opened three correction officers rushed in and beat him up. Claimant
suggests that the attack was in retaliation for his having filed complaints
against the officers in the past.
The version of events offered by Defendant also involves correction officers
employing force against Claimant but only for the purpose of restraining
Justification is a defense to an action for battery (2 NY PJI 26 [Supp]).
Justification in using physical force exists for a correction officer when an
inmate resists or disobeys any lawful direction and it is necessary to maintain
order or enforce observation of discipline (Penal Law §35.10; Correction
Law §137). To establish the defense Defendant must demonstrate that the
officer used objectively reasonable force (see,
Higgins v City of Oneonta
, 208 AD2d 1067).
Correction Officer Spinner testified that on May 1, 2000 he was involved in
moving Claimant to another cell. According to Officer Spinner handcuffs had
been placed on Claimant when, through the cell window, he saw Claimant go into
his property bag. He then directed Claimant to show his hands which he did.
There was nothing in his hands. The officer then asked to have the cell door
opened and as the door opened Claimant went back into his bag and came out with
an orange pen. The officers rushed into the cell and wrestled Claimant to the
ground where he was placed in restraints.
The testimony presents conflicting versions of what occurred. In Claimant's
version the force used was unprovoked and constitutes a battery. In the version
offered by Defendant force was used only to restrain Claimant and was reasonable
under the circumstances. Liability, or the absence of it, depends on crediting
one version rather than the other.
A videotape which shows the officers outside Claimant's cell and then entering
the cell was reviewed by the court. On the videotape the officers can be seen
standing outside the cell. At one point one of the officers directs Claimant,
while the cell door is still closed, to show his hands. The officer then backs
away from the window and just as the cell door opens he yells at Claimant and
the three officers rush into the cell. Shouting and other noise can be heard
coming from the cell but the interior of the cell cannot be
The scene as shown on the videotape
is consistent with the version of events offered by Officer Spinner and
therefore, the testimony of Officer Spinner is credited and the court finds that
the force employed by correction officers was justified. Accordingly, the claim
The request by Claimant in his letters to the court following the close of the
trial that the trial be reopened is denied.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.