EXCLUSIVE: Video shows LMDC inmate beaten while handcuffed

For the first time, the public is able to see body camera video of the moment an inmate in...
For the first time, the public is able to see body camera video of the moment an inmate in handcuffs is punched in the head by a corrections officer.
Published: Dec. 3, 2018 at 9:49 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - For the first time, the public is able to see body camera video of the moment when an inmate in handcuffs was punched in the head by a corrections officer.

The officer, David Schwartz, was immediately fired from the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections after the video surfaced in April 2018.

Former LMDC officer Devan Edwards was also fired.

At the time, jail officials described Schwartz as acting in a "fit of rage."

The body camera video, obtained exclusively by WAVE 3 News, shows an inmate, Terry Whitehead, in a room. He is seen sitting down on a bench with his hands behind his back in handcuffs.

"What are you doing man?" Edwards can be heard on the body camera he was wearing.

“What did I do bro?” Whitehead asked.

“I ain’t never had a problem out of you, why you gonna spit on us?” Edwards said.

Whitehead responds he was trying to use the bathroom. He’d been accused of blocking the window in his cell with toilet paper.

Then, Schwartz is seen in the video punching Whitehead in the head. He then begins slamming the cell’s metal door against the wall.

“What I saw in that video was shocking and disturbing to me,” Louisville Metro Department of Corrections Director, Mark Bolton, told WAVE 3 News.

Bolton fired Schwartz and Edwards immediately after watching the video, which was brought to his attention by another corrections officer.

"I've been in this business 40 years and I'd never seen anything quite like that," Bolton said.

Corrections FOP President Tracy Dotson is thankful it was caught on camera.

"This is not business as usual for us at all," Dotson said. "Period."

He wanted the public to know this incident wasn't indicative of other officers.

“These incidents are very isolated and rare, and when they happen, we handle them as best we can,” Dotson said.

After the officers were fired, a WAVE 3 News Troubleshooter investigation found that Schwartz had been arrested and convicted of a crime himself.

Schwartz was a Marine who served in Kuwait and Iraq. He earned several medals and bronze stars, according to the United States Marine Corps.

But in 2004, just two months before his discharge, Schwartz was arrested. He pleaded guilty to domestic criminal trespass and attempting to break into or enter a building.

In fact, he even jotted down a conviction on his corrections application and explained that he was trying to pick up his son from his ex-wife's boyfriend's house.

“Fourteen years ago, that’s probably something that currently did not reside in the national database,” Durham said. “And a trespassing charge is not the sort of thing that would disqualify an individual from a position.”

Durham added that he went through a rigorous training program and he showed no red flags.

Schwartz applied to be a police officer with LMPD, but he was not selected as a recruit. LMPD could not confirm why, due to laws restricted certain information being released.

WAVE 3 News also looked into Edwards' past, and found he was already under an internal investigation by LMDC, stemming from an image on a social media platform.

Whitehead is suing both Schwarz and Edwards federally. The suit alleges Whitehead was beaten and pepper sprayed inside his cell before the incident shown in the body camera video. It also states Whitehead was beaten repeatedly because he’d placed tissue paper on the cell’s window while using the restroom.

The lawsuit describes a minor scuffle and argument between Whitehead, Schwartz and Edwards. That’s when, according to the lawsuit, Whitehead was pepper-sprayed and placed in handcuffs. The claims state Schwartz and Edwards took turns punching Whitehead in the face and head.

The lawsuit states the officers then took Whitehead to another cell, the one seen in the video.

After the incident, Schwartz arrested Whitehead and charged him with assault in the third degree, a charge used for an assault on a law enforcement officer. In the citation, Schwartz stated Whitehead had spit in his face and struck him in his facial area.

After the ordeal, another officer came forward and alerted jail officials to the incident seen in the video.

Whitehead was in jail accused of felonies, including an assault on another corrections officer. Whitehead was accused of striking the officer in the head. He'd also been previously charged with robbery, wanton endangerment and fleeing and evading.

To Whitehead's mother, Janelle Stark, her son's previous accusations should not have played a role in the jail incident.

“Even though he’s in jail, I want him to be safe," Stark said in May. "And he does not deserve to be treated like he’s not a human.”

LMPD began a Public Integrity Unit investigation. It is unclear if they are still the agency investigating, or if it has been referred to another agency.

Copyright 2018 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.