Three former correctional officers are facing federal charges in the filmed beating of a handcuffed inmate in a Kentucky jail that authorities say they then tried to cover up.
David Schwartz, 48, Donna Gentry, 55, and Devan Edwards, 21, were indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Louisville for the April 2018 beating of 19-year-old Terry Whitehead.
Body camera footage taken inside the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections captured one of the officers punching Whitehead in the head as he sat in a cell with his hands handcuffed behind his back.
Whitehead’s attorney Sam Aguiar told HuffPost on Thursday that the officers’ actions were “corrupt, cowardly and criminal.”
“Terry and his mother are pleased to see progress like this. We hope that these indictments send a message that this type of culture and behavior amongst officers will result in significant consequences,” he said. “Hopefully, with the [Department of Justice] showing that officers will truly be held accountable for covering up this type of cowardly violence, it will deter similar conduct going on here and across the country.”
Whitehead filed a lawsuit against all three former officers last year. That lawsuit accused two of the officers of taking turns beating him after he was pepper-sprayed. Whitehead lost consciousness from his injuries and was treated at a hospital for contusions and swelling, Louisville station WHAS 11 previously reported.
Schwartz, who was fired over the incident, faces three felony counts of depriving Whitehead of his right to be free from excessive force resulting in bodily injury and for allegedly filing two false reports about the incident, one of which wrongfully accused Whitehead of assaulting an officer, according to a statement by the U.S. Justice Department.
Gentry, who resigned after the incident, is charged with one felony offense of obstructing justice for filing a false use of force report. She’s also charged with directing a subordinate officer to file a false use of force report, according to authorities.
Edwards is also charged with an unspecified federal felony offense for his alleged role in the assault.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported in December that Edwards was fired for failing to report the incident and also for earlier “unprofessional actions” on social media.
The deprivation-of-rights offense carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The false report and obstruction offenses both carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to the Justice Department.
Attempts to reach attorneys for Schwartz, Gentry and Edwards were not immediately successful.