Kentucky Correctional Officers Plead Guilty to Beating Handcuffed Detainee and Attempting to Cover Up the Assault
David M. Schwartz, 48, and Donna K. Gentry, 55, former correctional officers at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC), pleaded guilty today to federal charges in connection with the assault of a detainee and a subsequent attempt to cover up that misconduct. A third officer, Devan Edwards, previously pleaded guilty to assaulting the detainee and failing to intervene to prevent Schwartz from assaulting him.
“Correctional officers are sworn to uphold and defend the laws of our nation and to ensure the safety of the inmates under their control,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “These defendants knowingly violated the constitutional rights of an inmate and then lied to cover it up, thereby abusing the powers that the public entrusted to them. The Department of Justice will continue to hold correctional officers accountable for their actions.”
“This Commonwealth is well-served by many dedicated and under appreciated corrections officers and deputy jailers; however taking that oath means something,” said U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman for the Western District of Kentucky. “Those that view it as mere words and not a solemn vow to uphold the constitutional rights of Kentuckians will face federal prosecution.”
“Today’s guilty pleas confirm that FBI Louisville will pursue all aspects of excessive force incidents, including any attempts to obstruct an investigation into underlying conduct. Corrections officers have a critical public safety responsibility, and those who decide to cross the line and engage in criminal misconduct will be held accountable, “ said FBI Louisville Special Agent in Charge James R. Brown, Jr.
According to documents filed in connection with the guilty pleas, on April 18, 2018, Schwartz, while on duty as a correctional officer, punched a pretrial detainee, T.W., in the face while T.W. had his hands cuffed behind his back, and was pleading with Schwartz and posing no threat. Schwartz then wrote a false and misleading report, in which he intentionally omitted the fact that he had used force against T.W., and also wrote a citation charging T.W. with felony third-degree assault, in which he knowingly included false information about T.W.’s conduct.
On the same date, Gentry, who was then a sergeant, learned that Schwartz and Edwards had assaulted the detainee and that Edwards had accidentally turned on his body camera and recorded part of that assault. Gentry wrote and filed a false report, in which she included false statements and made material omissions about the excessive force used by Officers Schwartz and Edwards. She then directed Edwards to review her report and provide the same false account in his own report, changing the wording so that it would not be obvious that he had copied from her report.
Based on this misconduct, Schwartz pleaded guilty to one count of depriving T.W. of his right to be free from excessive force (resulting in bodily injury), and two counts of filing false reports. Gentry pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing justice for filing the false report and persuading another officer (Edwards) to file a false report. Schwartz faces a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 50 years, and Gentry faces a statutory maximum term of 20 years, but their actual sentences will be calculated with reference to the advisory federal sentencing guidelines.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 27, 2020.
This case was investigated by the Kentucky Public Corruption Civil Rights Task Force which consists of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), LMPD, the Kentucky office of the Attorney General, and the Kentucky State Police. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Amanda Gregory of the Western District of Kentucky and Special Litigation Counsel Christopher J. Perras of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.