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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Bryan Armen Graham

Officer who arrested Scottie Scheffler reprimanded for not having body-cam activated

Scottie Scheffler speaks during a news conference after the second round of the PGA Championship at  Valhalla Golf Club on Friday.
Scottie Scheffler speaks during a news conference after the second round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on Friday. Photograph: Matt York/AP

The Louisville Metro police ­department has taken ­“corrective action” against an officer who arrested Scottie Scheffler before the second round of the US PGA Championship last week. The ­department said the officer failed to activate his body-worn camera (BWC) during the arrest.

The police chief, Jacquelyn Gwinn-­Villaroel, said at a news ­conference on Thursday that the LMPD ­detective Bryan Gillis violated the ­department’s body-cam policy, which says ­officers are required to ­“maintain their BWC in a constant state of operational readiness”.

“Detective Gillis did not have his body-worn camera operationally ready as required by our policy,” Gwinn-Villaroel said. “He was performing a law-enforcement action as defined in our policy. Further, section 4.31.7 states members will maintain their BWC in constant state of operational readiness.

“Detective ­Gillis should have turned on his body-worn camera but did not. His failure to do so is a violation of LMPD policy on uniforms and equipment.”

Scheffler, 27, was arrested in the early hours of last Friday on charges that he injured Gillis and ­disobeyed commands as he drove to the course. But the Masters champion said “he never intended to disregard any of the instructions” and claimed the incident was caused by a ­misunderstanding. ­Authorities said the interaction caused the officer to be dragged to the ground where he suffered “pain, swelling and ­abrasions” to his left wrist and knee and was taken to hospital.

The Louisville mayor, Craig ­Greenberg, said authorities do not have video footage of when Gillis made his ­initial interaction with Scheffler outside the gates of Valhalla Golf Club.

“We understand the seriousness of the failure to capture this interaction, which is why our officer has received corrective action for this ­policy ­violation,” Gwinn-Villaroel said.

She did not elaborate on what ­“corrective action” has been taken against Gillis for violating the policy but said the detective was counselled by his supervisor and the violation was noted in his personnel file.

The Louisville police department’s body-cam policy came under harsh national scrutiny in 2020 after plainclothes officers shot Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, in her apartment while serving a no-knock warrant in a botched drug raid. The since-amended policy requires all officers to turn on the camera “prior to engaging in all law enforcement activities and encounters”.

In a form detailing the arrest, which was released on Thursday, Gillis wrote: “While directing traffic in front of Gate 1 the PGA personnel stopped a bus from entering Gate 1. I observed a vehicle traveling in the opposing lanes coming at me. I stopped the driver and advised him he could not proceed because of the bus. He demanded to be let in and proceeded forward against my directions. I was dragged/knocked down by the driver. I then proceeded to arrest the driver.”

Louisville police did release two previously redacted videos on Thursday taken after the initial encounter: one from the dash-cam of a police cruiser and another from a fixed-pole camera on the other side of the road.

An accident at 5am local time on Friday on the main carriageway adjacent to Valhalla resulted in the death of John Mills, a local man working at the event, after he was struck by a ­shuttle bus. Roughly an hour after the incident, amid gridlocked traffic, Scheffler became involved in what he described as a “misunderstanding” over traffic flow and was detained.

Scheffler was charged with four offences, including second-degree felony assault of a police officer, and taken to jail. After having his mugshot taken while wearing an orange jumpsuit, he was released from custody at 8.40am and was on the tee at Valhalla at 10.08am. He shot a 66 on the day and finished the tournament in a tie for eighth place.

The next step in Scheffler’s judicial process is a preliminary hearing in Louisville on 3 June at 9am, when he will be arraigned on the felony charge in addition to three misdemeanors: third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic.

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