Kentucky Correctional Officers Sentenced for Beating Handcuffed Detainee and Attempting to Cover Up the Assault
The Hon. Rebecca Grady Jennings of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky sentenced David M. Schwartz, 48, and Donna K. Gentry, 55, former correctional officers at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC), on charges of violating the civil rights of a pretrial detainee, writing false reports, and obstructing justice, for their roles in the assault of an inmate at LMDC and the subsequent attempt to cover up the misconduct.
Schwartz was sentenced to 24 months of incarceration and Gentry was scheduled to eight months of home confinement. Schwartz and Gentry previously pleaded guilty on Oct. 31, 2019. A third officer, Devan Edwards, previously pleaded guilty to assaulting the detainee and failing to intervene to prevent Schwartz from assaulting him.
“These officers violated their oath to defend the laws of our nation,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will vigorously seek to uphold the constitutional rights of inmates and will hold our correctional officers accountable for their actions.”
“The rule of law requires holding everyone to this same standard regardless of position of authority,” said U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman for the Western District of Kentucky. “The conduct here is an aberration among our city’s fine public safety professionals and I am grateful for the KY Public Corruption Civil Rights Task Force and our career federal prosecutors who achieved justice in the result.”
“Corrections officers have extremely difficult jobs; however, our community demands these officers conduct themselves professionally. Through the Kentucky Public Corruption Civil Rights Task Force, FBI Louisville will continue to aggressively investigate any public official that abuses those they have been sworn to protect,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert Brown, FBI Louisville Field Office.
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 while he 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 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 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.
Edwards will be sentenced on March 5, 2020.
This case was investigated by the Kentucky Public Corruption Civil Rights Task Force which consists of the FBI, Louisville Metro Police Department, the Kentucky office of the Attorney General, and the Kentucky State Police. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. 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.