Police actions under review after man ends up beaten and hospitalized

Shawn Gellhaus
Shawn Gellhaus
Zach Willette
Zach Willette
Source: Gellhaus family
Source: Gellhaus family
Source: Gellhaus family
Source: Gellhaus family

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Several LMPD officers are under investigation after a Louisville teen was hospitalized after being arrested last weekend. Nineteen-year-old Shawn Gellhaus says officers beat him up.

Gellhaus says his ordeal began a little after midnight on June 18 at Moore High School. That's when after he and three friends had been playing basketball, but for some reason his friends left and he found himself alone.

"I started quote freaking out because, you know, all my buddies are gone and I'm there by myself," Gellhaus said. "I get really hot and I decide to take every bit of clothes off."

Gellhaus says he doesn't know why he took his clothes off, and that he's never behaved like that in the past. He says he remembers his friends coming back for him and then leaving again, but doesn't clearly recall what happened after police arrived.

Zach Willette, who has known Gellhaus for about five years, says after he left work for the night, a friend called him about Gellhaus. Willette says that same friend also called police.

"I went up there and he was just walking around," Willette remembered. "I tried to talk to him and he wasn't responsive. He was jumping up and down saying 'Oh yeah!'"

Willette says Gellhaus was sweating, so he tried to grab him and give him water.

Willette says police arrived about 20 minutes later. According to LMPD spokeswoman Carey Klain, the Crisis Intervention Team responded when the report came in claiming there was a naked man on the basketball court, acting odd and screaming.

Willette says Gellhaus did not have a scratch on his body before officers arrived.

"I told them [LMPD] he's not being violent," Willette recalled. "You know, I don't know what's wrong with him. He was really hot and dehydrated and stuff."

Gellhaus says he remembers only bits and pieces. He said he felt as if he was burning at the time.

"I remember a fence being in front of me," Gellhaus said. "I remember the ground and I remember handcuffs. I'm sitting there hog-tied, like this, and they tell me if I jiggle anymore they're going to rape me. As soon as they said that, I started freaking out. I tried to pull out of those handcuffs as much as I could and from that point they ended up putting a bag over my head and I don't remember what they did from there."

Willette says he witnessed the arrest.

"I did see them slam him and I did see him on his neck and stuff like that,"

Willette says he stood about 50 feet away from Gellhaus and saw about 12 officers huddled around him. Willette remembered it was dark and said he could not hear what they were saying.

"I could have took better care of him than that," said Willette. "He just needed help. He didn't need that."

"I'm just still piecing it together," Gellhaus said. "It still scares me to death thinking about it."

As for his behavior, Gellhaus says he had fasted the entire day, and could have been overheated from playing basketball on that hot June night.

Klain says no police report was filed for the call because the Crisis Intervention Team responded.

Klain said a family member has made a complaint to a commanding officer and the department's Public Integrity Unit is conducting an investigation.

An attorney for Gellhaus, Thomas Clay, says the investigation will focus on whether responding officers followed proper procedures.

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