Louisville, KY — Body camera video from inside the Louisville Metro corrections center shows that officers can and will beat an entirely compliant, submissive person, even when that person is handcuffed. Luckily, however, the video was so disturbing that it prompted a good cop to report and release it and two bad cops have been indicted for their brutal actions.
On Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted former officers David Schwartz and Donna Gentry for their role in the beating. As WAVE reports, a grand jury found Schwartz assaulted Whitehead and deprived him of his rights. It also found Schwartz lied about the assault and tried to cover up his actions.
According to a recent lawsuit, filed by the victim, Terry Whitehead, then a 19-year-old inmate, the incident happened on April 15, 2018. Whitehead was attempting to explain to officers why he had put up toilet paper in his cell to block his window.
“Whitehead, what are you doing, man?” says an officer wearing the body camera. “I ain’t never had a problem out of you. Why you gotta spit on us? Sergeants come around. You know how this is.”
Whitehead responds to the officer by telling him that he was just using the toilet and wanted some privacy while using the bathroom.
In response to Whitehead telling officer Schwartz that he was using the toilet, the officer reared back his fist as if he were going to strike Whitehead.
“I do not give you problems like that, Schwartz bro,” he tells the officer as he flinches in fear.
But the fact that the 19-year-old had given him no reason to get violent was of no consequence to officer Schwartz, and just like that, he punched the handcuffed teen in the face.
Schwartz then walks out of the jail, slamming the door into the wall twice before moving further down the hall.
According to the lawsuit and the indictment, the officers handcuffed Whitehead, hit him, then moved him to a different area and continued to beat the handcuffed man out of the view of the camera. The beating and pepper spraying was nothing less than torture.
The lawsuit states that Whitehead blacked out during the beating and was left with multiple contusions and swelling as a result. It took officers more than a week to finally bring Whitehead to the hospital after he lost consciousness in custody.
Gentry’s role in the beating was to allow Schwartz and Edwards into Whitehead’s cell to inflict the punishment. This was illegal and a violation of policy. She then made up a fake story to help the officers cover up their brutality.
According to WAVE, the grand jury found Gentry filed a false incident report about the inmate’s beating, claiming Whitehead “came towards the officers and spit on Officer Schwartz.” On top of that, the grand jury claimed Gentry ordered Edwards to corroborate her false report.
After Corrections Direction Mark Bolton watched the video—which was reported to him only after an unidentified good cop spoke up about it—he fired both officers for use of force violations, referring to the incident as “disturbing.”
“What I saw on that video is disturbing and is not reflective of what we expect from our staff,” Bolton said at the time.
Now, because a good cop decided to do the right thing, two bad cops are gone.
“If don’t nobody believe he deserves justice, I do,” Janelle Stark, Whitehead’s mother said last year. “And I’m going to make sure he gets it.”
For now, it appears that she will. As WAVE points out, if convicted of all charges, Schwartz could spend up to 50 years in jail and face a fine of up to $750,000. Gentry could spend up to 20 years in prison and be fined up to $250,000 if convicted.
“I’m hurt, my heart is broken,” Stark said.
Below is the footage. Notice how Whitehead is in such fear of further pain that he tries to plead with the officers to stop. Disturbing indeed.