Terry Whitehead, a 19-year-old then-inmate at the Louisville jail, was seated in a jail cell on April 15 explaining to officers why they found toilet paper covering his cell window during routine security checks.
“Whitehead, what are you doing, man?” says an unidentified officer wearing the body camera. “I ain’t never had a problem out of you. Why you gotta spit on us? Sergeants come around. You know how this is.”
Whitehead tells the officers he was using the toilet.
Officer David Schwartz [in photo], who stands inches from the inmate, pulls back his right hand as if to strike him. Whitehead recoils, lowering his torso.
“I do not give you problems like that, Schwartz bro,” he tells the officer.
Schwartz then punches a seated, cuffed Whitehead in the face.
He walks out of the cell, eventually slamming the metal cell door into the wall twice before walking down the hall.
The incident led to the firing of Schwartz, 47, who at the time was a probationary officer. In his termination letter, corrections Director Mark Bolton wrote the former Marine didn’t have the temperament for the job, and noted there was property damage from his “fit of rage.”
A second probationary officer, Devan Edwards, 21, was also fired by Bolton. His firing letter noted he failed to report the incident and also cited earlier “unprofessional actions” on social media as reasons for his termination.
Both were hired as recruits in September 2017.
Whitehead has filed suit against the two fired officers in U.S. District Court in Louisville claiming excessive force, assault and battery.
He was pepper sprayed, handcuffed and badly beaten, according to the suit, which seeks monetary damages for medical bills and pain and suffering, punitive damages, and a jury trial.
The suit claims Edwards had allowed Whitehead to put the tissue paper over an opening in his cell door for privacy when using the bathroom.
And though Schwartz did order Whitehead to take the paper down, Whitehead was using the bathroom and not able to reach the paper, according to the suit.
The officers and Whitehead got into a verbal argument and “minor scuffle,” leading an officer to use pepper spray. The officers cuffed Whitehead, hit him, then moved him to a different area and continued to hit him, according to the suit.
Both defendants have denied the allegations in the lawsuit.
Whitehead had contusions, swelling and he blacked out because of the assault, according to the lawsuit.
He was taken to University of Louisville Hospital on April 25, more than a week after the incident seen in the video, after he lost consciousness in custody, the suit alleges.
Metro Corrections said at the time that Whitehead was cleared by the department’s medical staff and didn’t appear to have any serious injuries.
The two officers were fired on April 24, after Bolton reviewed the body camera footage and found they had violated the department’s use of force policy.
“What I saw on that video is disturbing and is not reflective of what we expect from our staff,” Bolton said at the time.
Steve Durham, assistant director of Metro Corrections, said in an interview that Edwards was fired because he failed to report the use of force and didn’t seek medical attention for the inmate.
According to documents filed in the pending civil lawsuit, there is an ongoing FBI investigation of the assault captured on the video.