It's a case that has veteran officers shaking their heads. A case, caught on tape, that appears to show blatant assault.
“Get off his back.” A jail supervisor yells. “Make sure nothing is on his back!”
She tells officers six times.
You guys, we need to get him off his belly!”
She tells them.
Finally, they listen, leaving a bloody mess behind.
“In my experience, 31 years, and also my experience on the street; worst case I have ever seen,” says Alex Wold, a ret. investigator with the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Wold has seen a lot in his long career, but never had he seen a case quite like this one that happened inside centennial correctional two years ago. A situation that he says could have easily killed inmate Shawn Lovett, who was fully restrained with leg shackles and his hands cuffed behind his back and no way to protect himself.
“From his body language it appeared that he's being cooperative and then suddenly you see he's jerked off his feet and goes head first into the concrete which was pretty shocking to see because that's not something that would ordinarily happen.”
"Even though he may be in DOC for whatever heinous crime he committed, he's still a victim of a crime himself and he didn't deserve the way he was treated. Nobody deserves to be treated that way."
Nobody, he says, not even a man in prison for sex assault and kidnapping. Even the warden at the time called it one of the worst cases of excessive force he had seen in his career.
Sarah Schielke represents Lovett. She wants people to see a video that she says shows officers Anthony Martinez and Shannon Proud continuing the abuse even after Lovett is knocked unconscious.
“They are on him, both officers Proud and Martinez, the full weight of their bodies and their knees in his back, they're pushing and digging into the back of his head, yelling stop resisting, stop resisting."
“They get other guards to come and join in. Stop resisting, stop resisting Lovett. To this practically lifeless body just pooling blood, fully restrained on the ground. It's very disturbing. It's disturbing to watch and you listen to their sergeant come over and say, eventually she says you guys get off of him, get off him. She has to say it six or seven times."
Despite being knocked out and having what appears to be a serious head injury, Lovett, she says, never even got proper medical care.
"He woke up and had stitches applied. No x-ray was even sent out for, no scan was ever done, no concussion protocol was conducted. It's scary really.”
Lovett has since been moved to another prison facility in Pueblo. Schielke claims he still suffers from the incident.
“He's been suffering vision loss, headaches, incredible headaches, difficulty sleeping, memory issues, tremendous cognitive difficulties.”
Both officers have maintained that it was Lovett that was the aggressor, kicking while being shackled, and then again actively fighting and resisting them while on the ground. The officers claim the videos don't show what really happened and that they needed to do what they did to stay safe. Both Wold and Schielke disagree.
As for the officers involved, both are scheduled to go to trial later this year for felony charges. Officer Martinez was fired by DOC for his role in the alleged assault. But oddly, Shannon Proud was never even placed on leave, and before the state had even finished their investigation, the same warden who claimed that this was the worst case he'd ever seen, exonerated proud of any wrong doing as far as DOC is concerned. And Proud continues to work at the same facility, something Wold says is unprecedented.
“It puts the department of corrections is in a dilemma because historically they wanted to see the outcome of the criminal case before they made those types of decisions."
Both Wold and Schielke are hoping that a jury sees these cases, but say often times when the victim is an inmate, they aren't treated the same as other cases.
“They're people. They're somebody's child, somebody's brother, sister, you know. They still deserve to be treated like human beings and treated with respect,” says Wold.
Despite Lovett's willingness, the Department of Corrections refused to let us talk to him saying it wasn't in his best interest according to their mental health staff. They also declined our request to talk to them about this case and even basic protocols they follow. Open records requests about this situation, as well as previous situations involving Lovett, Martinez, and proud, were denied. The officers were also unavailable.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Shortly before air-time, and after denying requests for comments in the weeks leading up to the publication of this story, DOC issued a statement. That statement reads:
“The Colorado Department of Corrections has a zero tolerance policy for excessive use of force. This incident occurred and was addressed immediately by the CDOC and then forwarded to the appropriate local law enforcement for review for criminal charges.”
Below is the UNEDITED video of the incident.