Louisville, KY – A Kentucky man has filed a federal lawsuit against two former Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC) officers who allegedly assaulted him while he was handcuffed inside a jail cell in April (video below).
Bodycam footage captured much of the altercation, and ultimately led to both officers being fired, WAVE reported.
“This is not business as usual for us at all. Period,” LMDC Fraternal Order of Police President Tracy Dotson said of the attack seen on the video. “These incidents are very isolated and rare, and when they happen, we handle them as best we can.”
“I’ve been in this business 40 years and I’d never seen anything quite like that,” LMDC Director Mark Bolton concurred. “What I saw in that video was shocking and disturbing.”
The incident occurred LMDC facility on April 15, after 19-year-od inmate Terry Whitehead was found to have covered his jail cell window with toilet paper, the Courier Journal reported.
According to the lawsuit, Whitehead got into “a minor scuffle” with Corrections Officers David Schwartz and Devan Edwards, so he was pepper sprayed and placed into handcuffs, WAVE reported.
The corrections officers then allegedly took turns punching the inmate in the head and face before they moved him to another cell, the lawsuit said.
Recently released bodycam footage showed Corrections Officer Schwartz, 47, and Corrections Officer Edwards, 21, as they confronted Whitehead in the second cell.
“Whitehead! What are you doin’ man?” Corrections Officer Edwards yelled at the handcuffed inmate. “I ain’t never had a problem outta you! Why you gonna spit on us?”
Whitehead kneeled down in the corner of the room and told them that he had covered his cell window so he “could take a s—t.”
“Bro, you know I don’t give y’all problems like that,” he said, while ducking his head away from Corrections Officer Schwartz. “I do not give you problems like that Schwartz.”
Corrections Officer Schwartz responded by punching Whitehead in his face, the video showed.
The inmate then told the corrections officers that he wouldn’t cover his window again.
“I try my hardest…Cause y’all treat us right, you feelin’ me?” Whitehead said.
He denied needing medical assistance, but did request to be decontaminated with regards to the pepper spray.
Meanwhile, Corrections Officer Schwartz stormed out of the cell, then slammed the cell door into the wall twice as the video ended.
According to the lawsuit, Whitehead suffered swelling and contusions as a result of the assault, and ultimately lost consciousness, the Courier Journal reported.
On Apr. 25, over a week after the altercation, he was taken to Louisville Hospital after he allegedly lost consciousness again.
Medical staff examined him and said he didn’t appear to be seriously injured, LMDC said at the time.
Director Bolton, who was told about the altercation by another corrections officer, fired Corrections Officers Schwartz and Edwards immediately after he viewed the bodycam footage, WAVE reported.
Both men had been hired in September of 2017, and were probationary employees at the time of the incident, the Courier Journal reported.
“What I saw on that video is disturbing and is not reflective of what we expect from our staff,” Director Bolton said.
Corrections Officer Schwartz, a decorated U.S. Marine veteran who served in Kuwait and Iraq, pleaded guilty to attempted breaking and entering and domestic criminal trespass in 2004, just months before he was discharged from the military, WAVE reported.
According to the news outlet, he noted the incident on his LMDC application, and explained that he was trying to pick up his son from his ex’s new boyfriend’s home when he was charged with the offenses.
Corrections Officer Edwards was already under investigation for a social media issue when the altercation with Whitehead occurred, WAVE reported.
The Louisville Metro Police Department’s Public Integrity Unit and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are both investigating the incident, according to the Courier Journal.
You can watch bodycam footage of the altercation in the video below: