United States District Court, D. Colorado
E. Blackburn United States District Judge
matters before me are defendant Shawn Shields's (1)
Motion for Disclosure [#34],  filed September 26, 2016; and (2)
Motion To Suppress Evidence [#35], filed September 26, 2016.
The government filed responses to these motions [## 37 &
38, respectively], as well as a supplementary to the
discovery motion [#39]. I heard these motions on June 22,
2017, and took the matters under advisement. I now deny the
motion for discovery in part and deny it as moot in part, and
deny the motion to suppress.
fashioning my ruling, I considered all relevant adjudicative
facts in the file and record of this case pro tanto.
I considered the testimony educed at the hearing. I
considered, but did not necessarily accept, the reasons
stated, arguments advanced, and authorities cited by counsel
in their papers and during the hearing. I considered the
totality of relevant circumstances.
assessing the credibility of the witnesses who testified
during the hearing, I considered all facts and circumstances
shown by the evidence that affected their credibility,
including the following factors: the witness's means of
knowledge, ability to observe, and strength of memory; the
manner in which each witness might be affected by the outcome
of the hearing; the relationship the witness had to either
side in the case; the internal consistency vel non
of the testimony; and the extent to which the witness was
either supported or contradicted by other evidence presented
during the hearing.
findings of fact are based on not less than a preponderance
of the evidence. Based on the foregoing, I enter the
following findings of fact, conclusions of law, and orders.
FINDINGS OF FACT
March 18, 2015, defendant Shawn Shields, an inmate at the
United States Penitentiary - Administrative Maximum (ADX) in
Florence, Colorado, was involved in a verbal altercation with
another inmate, Donald Heisler, while the two were recreating
in the J Unit of the prison. On that morning, Special
Investigative Service (“SIS”) Lieutenant Charles
Alvarez was giving a morning briefing to several SIS
technicians in their office. At approximately 8:10 a.m.,
Lieutenant Alvarez glanced at one of the three monitors in
the office and observed Mr. Shields running up a stairwell to
the second tier of J Unit, with Mr. Heisler in pursuit.
inmate - identified at the hearing by Mr. Shields as Vincent
Basciano - stopped Mr. Heisler and held him back. Mr.
Shields, meanwhile, continued up the stairs to his cell,
which was locked, as is standard protocol during inmate
recreation time. Lieutenant Alvarez observed Mr. Shields
kneel down in front of his cell and reach underneath the
door, after which Mr. Shields continued down the corridor.
The SIS unit then received a call for assistance from J Unit,
and Lieutenant Alvarez and other SIS officers proceeded
Lieutenant Alvarez testified that J Unit was locked down
immediately following Messrs. Heisler's and Shields's
altercation, Mr. Shields insisted some eighteen to twenty
minutes elapsed before the unit was locked down, during which
time, he testified, he and Mr. Heisler had further, calmer,
discussions and purportedly resolved their differences.
Regardless, the unit ultimately was locked down. All inmates
were returned to their assigned cells, and prison staff
interviewed individually each inmate who was present and
performed a cell-by-cell search to ensure the unit was safe
to be reopened. At some point, Mr. Shields was removed from
his cell and questioned in an interview room within J Unit.
Following this interview (the particulars of which are not
specified and are irrelevant here), Mr. Shields was escorted
to the Special Housing Unit
an inmate enters the SHU, standard procedure requires he pass
through a machine called the SecurPASS, similar to the full
body x-ray scanners used to screen passengers at
airports. Following an initial scan, for which
Lieutenant Alvarez was not present, another officer
approached Lieutenant Alvarez and told him it appeared from
the scan that there was something in Mr. Shields's lower
abdominal region. Lieutenant Alvarez testified it appeared as
if there was a 3.5-inch needle in Mr. Shields's lower
abdominal region. The image, however, was “blurry,
” leaving the officers unsure what they were seeing.
Lieutenant Alvarez therefore ordered a second scan. This
image, too, was unclear, as was a subsequent scan.
the third inconclusive scan, Lieutenant Alvarez directed Mr.
Shields to slightly lift his hands, which were cuffed behind
his back, and a fourth scan was performed. The image of this
scan was clearer, but Lieutenant Alvarez still was not
“100% sure if it was a weapon or what.” He asked
Mr. Shields whether he had any surgical screws or plates in
his lower back. Mr. Shields said he did have a medical screw
in his spine, but when Lieutenant Alvarez checked Mr.
Shields's lower back, he saw no evidence of a surgical
scar to indicate Mr. Shields had undergone surgery for
placement of such a device.
Alvarez then left the SecurPASS room, intending to call the
medical department to verify whether Mr. Shields had a metal
screw or plate in his back. Before he could make that call,
however, other officers alerted him that Mr. Shields had said
he would surrender the object if Lieutenant Alvarez would
show it to him on the screen. Lieutenant Alvarez returned to
the SecurPASS room and ordered Mr. Shields to give him the
object. Mr. Shields repeated he would do so if Lieutenant
Alvarez would show him the scan.
with the image, Mr. Shields said, according to Lieutenant
Alvarez, “Okay you got me, and damn technology now a
days is a bitch. Just escort me to a cell and I will give it
to you. That's my word and plus I don't want
Osagie[‘]s fat fingers in my ass.” (Gov't
Hrg. Exh. 1 at 1.) Lieutenant Alvarez asked whether the
object was metal and if in fact it was concealed in his
rectum, and Mr. Shields responded “Yes.”
Shields then was escorted to an observation cell. His
restraints were removed and he was provided with a bedpan
covered with a plastic trash bag. Mr. Shields removed the
object from his rectum and placed it in the bedpan. On later
examination, the objects consisted of two pieces of aluminum,
one 4.5 inches long and the other 1.5 inches long, both
sharpened to points. After Mr. Shields removed these items,
he was returned to the scanner for a fifth and final
to verify that nothing else was concealed inside his body.
When that scan came back clear, Mr. Shields was escorted to a
cell in the SHU.
Lieutenant Alvarez acknowledged that scanning an inmate
entering the SHU five times was unusual, he testified he
believed this course of action was required in the particular
circumstances to ensure the safety and security of both staff
and inmates. Lieutenant Alvarez estimated that the screening
process took only five to ten minutes. The entire encounter,
from the time Mr. Shields was escorted from J Unit to the
time he reached a cell in the SHU, lasted approximately
thirty minutes. Lieutenant Alvarez described Mr.
Shields's demeanor as respectful and compliant
throughout, and officers were not abusive, either verbally or
physically. Standard security protocols and procedures were
followed at each step.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
this incident, Mr. Shields was indicted on one count of
knowingly possessing contraband in prison, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1791(a)(2). He has moved to suppress the
evidence obtained as a result of the SecurPASS search, as
well as the statements he made to officers in connection with
that search. He also has filed a motion for discovery under
Fed. R. Crim. P. 16(a). I consider these matters in reverse
MOTION FOR DISCLOSURE
Shields moves for the disclosure of various categories of
information pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 16(a)(1), as well as
the opportunity to tour and videotape areas of ADX implicated
by the incident and to interview certain specified inmates.
By its response, the government agreed to some of these
requests,  subject to certain protocols and
restrictions, and as rehearsed in the supplement to the
government's response, the parties have reached agreement
as to these matters. To that extent, therefore, the motion is
government continues to object, however, to providing
discovery as to the following requested items:
a. all Bureau of Prisons [BOP] policies, procedures, rules,
memoranda, and regulations governing
I. BOP personnel entering housing units, including SHU and
Step-Down, in ADX Florence in response to disturbances in
ii. assignment of prisoners to BOP facilities and to specific
housing units within those facilities based on points
assigned by BOP to prisoners;
iii. the days and times prisoners may be out of their cells
in all housing units at ADX Florence, including the SHU and
Step-Down units; and iv. visits with ...