United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
NATASHA M. BAPTISTA, Individually and as a Personal Representative of the Estate of Egidio M. Batista, Plaintiff,
THOMAS M. HODGSON, RONALD DESCHENES, MICHAEL GONCALVES, JOSEPH CORDEIRO, MATTHEW RODRIGUES, and CITY OF NEW BEDFORD, Defendants.
ORDER ON MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOCS. NO. 62,
Sorokin United States District Judge
Batista died from an injury he sustained while in a holding
cell at the Ash Street Jail in New Bedford. His daughter,
Natasha Baptista,  has brought suit against five individuals
and the City of New Bedford for claims arising out of Mr.
Batista's death. The defendants have moved for summary
judgment on all claims. For the reasons that follow, the
motions for summary judgment are ALLOWED in part.
2013, Egidio Batista lived in a first-floor apartment in New
Bedford. Doc. No. 78 ¶ 25. His daughter, Natasha
Baptista, and her young children lived in a second-floor unit
in the same building. Id. ¶ 18. On July 20,
2013, Mr. Batista arrived home drunk and got into an argument
with Ms. Baptista in the outdoor area of the apartment
complex. Id. ¶¶ 6, 19. After taking her
children upstairs to remove them from the situation, Ms.
Baptista called 911. Id. ¶¶ 19-20. Officer
Matthew Rodrigues of the New Bedford Police Department
(“NBPD”)arrived at the apartment building and
observed Mr. Batista sitting on the ground outside the door
of his apartment. Id. ¶¶ 8, 25. Officer
Rodrigues observed that Mr. Batista was “highly
intoxicated, was difficult to understand, was sweating and
may have urinated his pants.” Id. ¶ 26.
Mr. Batista told Officer Rodrigues about the verbal
altercation he had with his daughter and that she called the
police. Id. ¶ 27. After speaking with Ms.
Baptista, Officer Rodrigues decided to take Mr. Batista into
protective custody. Id. ¶¶ 28, 30, 31.
Rodrigues escorted Mr. Batista to the police cruiser without
incident and transported him to the NBPD Headquarters.
Id. ¶¶ 32-33. After photographing and
booking Mr. Batista, Officer Rodrigues took him to the Ash
Street Jail, pursuant to NBPD policy. Id. ¶ 34.
Upon arrival at the Ash Street Jail,
Officer Rodrigues walked Mr. Batista to the admissions area,
handed his report to a corrections officer, observed the
initial medical evaluation of Mr. Batista and left the Ash
Street Jail once the paperwork had been signed off on by the
corrections officer and Mr. Batista was placed in the custody
and care of the Bristol County Sheriff's Department.
Doc. No. 78 ¶ 35. The surveillance video shows that
Officer Rodrigues stayed in the booking area until Mr.
Batista was placed in a temporary holding cell. Doc. No.
64-18. After leaving the Ash Street Jail, Officer Rodrigues
did not have any further interaction with Mr. Batista. Doc.
No. 78 ¶ 37.
Mr. Batista arrived at the Ash Street Jail, Officers Ronald
Deschenes, Michael Goncalves, and Gina DiNucci of the BCSD
were on duty in the admissions area. Id.
¶¶ 47-51. Officer Deschenes was responsible for
“searching incoming detainees and placing them into a
temporary holding cell pending processing and booking.”
Id. ¶ 49. Officer Goncalves was responsible for
completing the admissions paperwork. Id. ¶ 51.
Officer DiNucci was responsible for maintaining visual
supervision of the temporary holding cells through both a
window and video surveillance. Id. ¶ 76. When
Mr. Batista arrived, the larger of the two holding cells in
the booking area was occupied by four males who had been
arrested that afternoon. Id. ¶ 66. The other
was occupied by a female who had been arrested. Id.
Batista was brought into the booking area by Officer
Rodrigues and was then searched by Officer Deschenes.
Id. ¶ 67. During this search, Mr. Batista spoke
with Officer Deschenes in both English and Portuguese.
Id. ¶ 68. Mr. Batista “was able to follow
directions, to walk under his own power, and he was able to
sit down in and get up from a seated position without
assistance.” Id. ¶ 69. After Officer
Deschenes searched Mr. Batista and helped him remove his
shoes, he placed Mr. Batista “into the temporary
holding cell in the booking area that was occupied by four
other male detainees.” Id. ¶ 73.
“Mr. Batista appeared reluctant to enter and be locked
in the Ash Street Jail holding cell with four arrested
detainees, and he tried to resist it.” Id.
¶ 113. He asked Officer Deschenes why he was being
placed in the cell and stated that he did not want to go into
it. Id. ¶ 115.
Deschenes nonetheless placed Mr. Batista in the cell.
Id. ¶ 73. Officer Deschenes stayed in the
booking area for a few moments where he observed Mr. Batista
and the others in the holding cell before returning to his
desk in another room of the Ash Street Jail, where Officer
Goncalves was working at his own desk. Id.
¶¶ 74, 77; Doc. No. 64-18. From these desks,
neither Officer Deschenes nor Officer Goncalves could observe
the temporary holding cells where Mr. Batista and others were
being held, either directly or on a video monitor,
id. ¶¶ 75, 78, though Officer DiNucci
maintained surveillance the entire time, id. ¶
122. In fact, Officer Goncalves did not yet know that Mr.
Batista had arrived at Ash Street Jail or that he had been
placed in a temporary holding cell. Id. ¶ 78.
to one of the other individuals held in the cell, Mr. Batista
began “just walking back and forth and just swearing
and stuff . . . [i]t looked like he was just trying to pick a
fight with somebody.” Id. ¶ 80. He
“was getting into the face of the others in the cell
and questioning what the other cellmates were going to do
about it.” Id. ¶ 81 (internal quotation
marks omitted). Within a few minutes of being placed in the
holding cell, Mr. Batista made physical contact with Luis
Mojica, one of the other individuals in the cell.
Id. ¶ 83. In response, Mr. Mojica shoved Mr.
Batista, who “fell to the ground, striking his
head.” Id. ¶ 86. Immediately thereafter,
Officer DiNucci called a Code 99 which indicated to the other
officers that there was an emergency in the booking area.
Id. ¶ 87. Within ten seconds of Mr. Batista
falling to the ground, multiple officers arrived in the
booking area to respond to the situation. Id. ¶
officers secured the scene and removed Mr. Batista from the
holding cell, where they lifted him into a chair in order to
assess his injuries. Id. ¶ 89; Doc. No. 64-18 A
nurse arrived in the booking area to provide medical
treatment to Mr. Batista. Id. ¶ 90. Mr. Batista
was transported soon thereafter to a local hospital, where he
died from his injuries the following morning. Id.
are a number of NBPD and BCSD policies which the plaintiff
alleges were violated by the conduct of some or all of the
defendants. The Court therefore summarizes the relevant
portions of each of those polices.
NBPD Custodial Procedures policy, pursuant to which Officer
Rodrigues took Mr. Batista into protective custody, states
[t]he Bristol County Sheriff's Department is responsible
for the care and custody of all adult detainees that are not
brought to court or taken to another facility. Adult
individuals . . . taken into protective custody shall
ultimately be transported to the Ash Street Jail in New
Bedford, where they will be . . . released pursuant to M.G.L.
ch. 111B . . .
Hyperlink reference not valid.. Additionally, the
policy requires that upon arrival at the Ash Street Jail,
“the transporting officer will remain with the detainee
until the jail staff have conducted a brief medical screening
prior to acceptance of the detainee.” Id. at
Bristol County Sheriff's Office Regional Lock-up Policy
(“Lock-up Policy”) sets forth the procedures for
admitting, searching, and booking individuals brought to
facilities such as the Ash Street Jail, and it applies
equally to both protective custody detainees and to arrested
individuals. Doc. No. 74-4 at 20. The Lock-up Policy provides
that “[t]emporary holding cells . . . shall provide a
temporary holding area for newly admitted prisoners and
detainees before they are booked and escorted to the Regional
Lockup.” Id. at 10. The Lock-up Policy also
[t]ypically, during the booking process, intoxicated and/or
violent prisoners or detainees shall be segregated from
others and placed in a separate temporary holding cells
[sic]. Once that process is completed, the Booking Officer or
Watch Commander shall ensure that the individual is placed in
[a] separate cell within the Regional Lockup. Under no
circumstances shall a violent, intoxicated or otherwise