Two former corrections officers, one who worked as a supervisor, at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections were indicted on federal charges for their roles in beating a handcuffed inmate on April 15, 2018.
Video of the incident, which can be seen above, may have never come to light if a good officer hadn’t brought the incident to the attention of brass.
If convicted, former LMDC corrections officer David M. Schwartz, 48, faces up to 50 years in federal prison and fines up to $750,000 after a grand jury indicted him Wednesday on federal charges of deprivation of rights under color of law and two counts of false reporting, according to an indictment.
Schwartz’s supervisor, Donna K. Gentry, 55, faces 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000 after she was charged with obstruction of justice on Wednesday for facilitating, encouraging and corroborating a cover up, which consisted of fabricating a third degree assault on a public servant charge against 19-year-old Terry Whitehead.
When the video came to light in 2018, Schwartz and former corrections officer Devan Edwards, who was wearing the body camera inside Whitehead’s jail cell, were immediately fired.
After the beating, Schwartz, along with Gentry, his supervisor, then claimed they only beat Whitehead while handcuffed because he spit on them.
The grand jury said there is evidence that Gentry ordered Edwards to corroborate the false report against Whitehead.
But charges against Whitehead were dropped after an unidentified corrections officer brought the video to the attention of Louisville Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton a week after the beating.
The video shows Whitehead, obviously in fear, attempting to cooperate and reason with the officers, which might have saved him from being brutalized even more.
When the footage begins, it shows Whitehead sitting down with his hands cuffed behind his back attempting to catch his breath.
Schwartz can be heard taunting him and setting the stage to fabricating a story and a cover up.
“Whitehead, what are you doing, man?” Schwartz loudly shouts at the then teenager.
“What did I do, bro.?”
“I (sic) ain’t never had a problem out of you. Now you’re going to spit on us? Sergeant is coming around. You know how this is.”
Whitehead’s response indicates he’s genuinely confused about what’s happening.
“Man, I just had to take a shit, bro. I swear to god, bro.”
“Take the f’n strings down,” Schwartz says, pretending to be concerned about Whitehead’s safety, which ironically is a not-all-too-uncommon a reason officers give when they’re actually endangering someone’s safety.
“I just need to take a shit,” Whitehead repeats.
“That’s all I’m asking you to do,” Schwartz says before appearing like he may strike Whitehead, which causes him to flinch out of fear.
“I do not give you problems like that, bro.” he says right before Schwartz punches him in the face with a closed fist.
“All you had to do was take the strings down.”
“I’ll take them down next time, bro.” Whitehead says softly. “Y’all (sic) ain’t [gonna] have no problems from me, bro.”
“I swear to god, man. You know second shift, bro,” Whitehead says as Schwartz sticks his chest out intimidating Whitehead.
“I try my hardest. You feel me? Because y’all treat us right, you feel me? On everything. But this ain’t right here, though — on my momma.”
“Do you need medical?” Schwartz says, feigning concern.
“I’m straight,” Whitehead says, obviously afraid, before asking for something to put in his eyes from being tortured with pepper-spray.
“What I saw on that video is disturbing and is not reflective of what we expect from our staff,’ Bolton told WDRB after watching video of the incident.
Bolton said Schwartz, a former Marine, often flew into “fits of rage” and didn’t have the temperament necessary for the job.
Jail officials say Gentry allowed Schwartz, along with Edwards, to enter Whitehead’s cell, which is against jail policy.
Gentry had been suspended for the same reasons in 2009 and 2013, according to WAVE3.
Their indictment, which can be read below, states Schwartz pepper-sprayed then punched Whitehead several times before the recording began and that the attack against Whitehead involved pepper-spray and was more even more brutal than what was captured on video.
Whitehead has filed a lawsuit in federal court against all three officers, including Edwards who failed to protect him from being brutalized by Schwartz.
Attorney Sam Aguiar, Whitehead’s attorney in his federal lawsuit, says the lawsuit isn’t about changing policy.
“This case is not about a defect in policy,” he said. “This case is about a defect in personality.”
The United States Department of Justice issued a press release stating the case will be prosecuted by Trial Attorney Christopher J. Perras of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and Assistant United States Attorney Amanda Gregory of the Western District of Kentucky.
The indictment charges three felony offenses against Schwartz and one felony offense against Gentry. Schwartz is charged with depriving the inmate of his right to be free from excessive force (resulting in bodily injury), and with filing two false reports, one of which wrongfully accused the inmate of assaulting on an officer. Gentry is charged with obstructing justice by filing a false use of force report, and by directing a subordinate officer to file a false use of force report.
An FBI investigation into the assault against Whitehead is ongoing.
No court dates have been made available for Schwartz or Gentry.
Read their federal indictments below.