2 corrections officers plead guilty in case of handcuffed inmate being punched

Two former Louisville Metro Department of Corrections officers pleaded guilty to federal charges Thursday after a video showed a handcuffed inmate being punched
Updated: Oct. 31, 2019 at 6:15 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Two former Louisville Metro Department of Corrections officers pleaded guilty to federal charges Thursday after a video showed a handcuffed inmate being punched in the face.

WAVE 3 News broke the story last year with the exclusive video of the incident that took place in April 2018.

Thursday, David Schwartz pleaded guilty to three federal counts for throwing the punch and for lying about the incident on two separate reports.

Schwartz’s sergeant, Donna Gentry, pleaded guilty to one count, also in relation to the report which tried to paint the inmate as the aggressor.

The video surfaced after another corrections officer in the room at the time of the incident, Devan Edwards, accidentally turned his body camera on.

The video shows Schwartz punching inmate Terry Whitehead in the face, then slamming a large metal door several times. Watch the video below:

(Story continues below the video)

After the hearing Thursday, Schwartz did not answer any of WAVE 3 News’ questions. Gentry also had no comment.

One of Whitehead’s attorneys said there should be zero tolerance for abuse of power.

“It’s important for the community,” Jeffrey Freeman said. “It’s important for everyone like Terry. It was important that we make sure that nothing like this happens again.”

That’s something the Assistant Director of the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, Stephen Durham, also said.

“Metro Corrections officers are committed to protecting those under their supervision and keeping them safe,” Durham told WAVE 3 News. “As soon as Metro Corrections officials became aware of these employees’ misconduct, they took immediate steps, including termination of the employees and notification to law enforcement officials.”

In a series of investigations, WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters found that Schwartz had a previous misdemeanor conviction stemming from a domestic dispute. He’d also been discharged with an “other than honorable” classification from the Marine Corps. Thursday, he told the judge he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

After receiving another tip, WAVE 3 News discovered Gentry had on her record more than 30 disciplines and reprimands, along with 12 suspensions for a total of 37 days.

Records involving UofL Hospital showed she’d been kicked out and banned for being angry, rude and confrontational while accompanying a female inmate who was in labor.

Durham said he was pleased with the outcome of the investigation.

“While the employees’ actions were disappointing, today’s pleas reflect months of diligent investigative work and intelligence sharing among justice partners, and underscore our commitment to respecting the civil rights of the people we are charged with supervising,” he said.

Schwartz faces a maximum of 50 years in prison, plus a $750,000 fine for the three charges combined. Gentry faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The prosecutor recommended lighter sentences in exchange for their guilty pleas. The judge will determine those sentences in February.

“The actions these former officers pled guilty to are in direct conflict with the training and teaching of how LMDC sworn staff are to treat citizens of this community and detainees in our custody,” FOP President Tracy Dotson said.

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