A handcuffed Black teenage inmate was punched in the face by a white corrections officer in a Kentucky jail, newly surfaced video confirmed this week. Terry Whitehead was identified as the prisoner, who could be seen on the video seated and shirtless with his hands behind his back when he gets struck, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
The since-fired Louisville Metro Corrections officer, David Schwartz, assaulted Whitehead, 19, back in April, but the video started making the rounds on social media Thursday.
The video, which has audio, showed the corrections officer accusing Whitehead of spitting on “us,” though it wasn’t clear who else was allegedly spit on.
“Whitehead, what are you doing, man? I ain’t never had a problem out of you,” the corrections officer can be seen saying. “Why you gotta spit on us? Sergeants come around. You know how this is.”
On the video, Schwartz, 47, postures like he was going to throw a punch, compelling Whitehead to flinch before the corrections officer punched him in the face.
Schwartz was ultimately fired along with another corrections officer who was terminated for covering up the assault, and now both are being sued by Whitehead for
“What I saw on that video is disturbing and is not reflective of what we expect from our staff,” Louisville Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton said back in April.
Video capturing members of law enforcement assaulting suspects is sadly nothing new. Just this past summer there were two noteworthy instances, including one in Baltimore, where an officer was forced to resign once the video went viral. Another video, this time in Arizona, showed a group of cops beating a man before handcuffing him. In what could become Schwartz’s reality, those officers in suburban Phoenix did not face any criminal charges.
In perhaps the most egregious example of rogue police officers assaulting a restrained suspect, New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo used an illegal chokehold to kill Eric Garner, who was suspected of the nonviolent crime of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes in public. That episode was also caught on a video that went viral around the world and promoted global protests of law enforcement. Despite the lethal outcome, Pantaleo has continued to earn a six-figure salary from the safety of his desk duty reassignment after he killed Garner.
On Thursday, nearly four years after a New York City grand jury declined to bring a criminal indictment against Pantaleo, the officer was told he would finally face a disciplinary trial in May. At worst, Pantaleo could lose his job.
The video showing Schwartz’s assault on Whitehead follows below. Please view it with discretion.