LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Two former Louisville correctional officers involved in the punching of a restrained detainee and cover-up of the crime have been sentenced to prison and home confinement.
David M. Schwartz, 48, a former officer with Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, has been sentenced to two years, while his former supervisor, Donna K. Gentry, 55, was sentenced to eight months of home confinement.
Schwartz and Gentry in October pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of a pretrial detainee, writing false reports and obstructing justice, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. Devan Edwards, a third former officer involved in the case, is scheduled to be sentenced March 5. He 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.”
According to court documents, Schwartz, while on duty as a correctional officer on April 18, 2018, punched the face of a detainee who was handcuffed behind his back, while the detainee was “pleading” with Schwartz and posed no threat.
Schwartz then wrote a false and misleading report, in which he intentionally omitted that he had punched the detainee and then falsely accused the detainee of having assaulted him.
Authorities say that Gentry, then a sergeant, tried to cover up the crime after she learned of the assault and of Edwards accidentally having recorded part of the assault on his body camera. On the day of the assault, Gentry filed a false report and told 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,” the DOJ said.
Robert Brown, the special agent of the FBI’s Louisville office, said that 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,” he said.
Russell Coleman, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, said the officers’ conduct was an “aberration among our city’s fine public safety professionals,” but the rule of law requires everyone be held accountable “regardless of position of authority.”