LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – When Stephon Beckam found out his wife was going to the hospital for an irregular heart beat after being tased by Louisville Metro Police Officer Gregory Satterly, he asked the officer a question – followed by a threat.
“You think you are going to get away with that don’t you?” Beckam asked Satterly from the back of a police cruiser as he was being taken to jail on a charge of trespassing on Oct. 23, 2016. “I’m going to get you for assaulting my wife – and me.”
“Ok,” Satterly responded, telling Beckam he could argue his case in court, according to body camera footage obtained by WDRB News.
The footage reveals for the first time the incident that resulted in Metro government paying the Beckams $50,000 to avoid a lawsuit alleging they were assaulted and wrongfully arrested and that police tried to cover up Satterly’s actions.
Now, the Beckams and their attorney want to know why an internal investigation of the incident took more than two years to complete and Satterly stayed on the street, where he used excessive force against two more citizens before he was fired in April.
“He continued to have a job and carry out two more incidents, that we are aware of,” said attorney David Johnson, who represents the Beckams. “It’s not clear how an officer could have a job after what happened in this body camera footage alone.”
LMPD hasn’t responded to questions asking why Satterly remained on active duty during the excessive use-of-force investigation and why the investigations took so long.
Nor has the department provided body camera footage of Satterly’s excessive force incidents, which WDRB requested in September. A spokeswoman said at the time those recordings could take months to produce.
Charges against Beckam and his wife, Nyshan Beckam, including trespassing and resisting arrest, were dismissed in September 2017.
By that time, Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad had begun an internal investigation into Satterly. It remained open from January 2017 until April of this year.
On April 23, Satterly was fired, in part, for tasing Nyshan Beckam while, according to Conrad, she was complying with the officer’s commands.
Body camera video obtained by WDRB shows Nyshan Beckam on the ground several feet away from Satterly, sitting on her hands when she was tased.
“I believe you acted out of anger rather than out of perceived threat of immediate danger to an officer or another person,” Conrad wrote in Satterly’s termination letter in April.
But while the investigation was pending, Satterly apparently remained on active duty and was found by police to have used excessive force on two more occasions.
The same month Conrad opened an investigation into the arrests of the Beckams, Satterly threw a handcuffed man to the ground, where he was berated, cursed and told "Listen to me boy!” according to the officer’s April termination letter.
An investigation into that incident began on June 28, 2017, according to police records.
Even as two excessive force investigations were ongoing, Satterly apparently continued to remain on active duty. It is not unusual for officers to be placed on administrative reassignment, like desk duty, while they are under internal investigation.
And on Nov. 22, 2017, Satterly "used unreasonable force" on another handcuffed suspect, taking him to the ground and injuring the man, Conrad wrote in the April termination letter. That internal investigation began on Nov. 28, 2017.
It would still take another year and a half before Satterly was fired.
Conrad concluded in April that Satterly “had a pattern of aggressive and angry behavior,” according to the termination letter.
"Unfortunately, after reviewing these cases, I believe our community needs to be protected from you," Conrad wrote.
One way to truly protect the public would be to go after Satterly's Peace Officer Professional Standards Certification, known as POPS.
This certification issued by the Kentucky Law Enforcement council is required for any officer to work in the state. The council can revoke that certification thus preventing employment when an officer has egregiously abused their power or broken the law. LMPD never reported Satterly’s actions to the council.
“At the time of former Officer Gregory Satterley’s termination, there was no statutory regulation to take any action regarding his POPS certification, “ LMPD spokesperson Dwight Mitchell said in an emailed response to WDRB. “The statue changed in June of 2019. His termination took place in April 2019.”
The change in state law now requires police agencies to report terminations to KLEC for misconduct and perhaps more importantly officers who resign or retire in the middle of an investigation in which the subject matter includes a fire-able offense.
Previously, an officer leaving the department amid internal investigation stopped the investigation and, with no action on their POPS certification, many gained employment with other police agencies.
"It was changed because we just had rogue police officers that were bouncing from one agency to another that were allowed to police and didn't need to be policing in our communities," KLEC Executive Director Phil Crumpton said. "So the policing community got together and said we've had enough, let's change this so we can get rid of those folk and clean up our profession."
House Bill 191 passed the legislature and was signed by then Governor Matt Bevin on March 26th. But Satterly’s termination weeks later in April came before the measure was enacted in June of 2019. The timeline of events left no blemish on his POPS certification.
“He’s completely able to move to another state and get another job” with police, Johnson said. “And this happens all the time.”
"My hands are behind my back!"
The incident with the Beckams began when someone called police on the couple while they were sitting in a van in front of a family member’s house on Oct. 16, 2017.
Satterly and another officer talked to the couple and asked them to leave several times, saying they were trespassing, according to body cam videos obtained by WDRB.
The couple said they were doing nothing wrong, were on family property and claimed they were waiting to get their kids who, because of custody issues, had been staying at the home. No one from inside the house ever came out. Nyshan Beckam told police no one was home at the time.
When the couple continued to argue with officers about whether they were trespassing, Satterly opened the passenger door and Nyshan Beckam fell out as the officer grabbed one of her arms and papers from her hands, body camera video shows.
In the video, she immediately begins asking for a police supervisor as Satterly tries to handcuff her. Beckam ends up on the ground, with Satterly on top of her, repeatedly telling her to put her hands behind her back.
As they struggle, Satterly asks Beckam if she wants to get tased, as she continues yelling, “I asked to speak with a supervisor.”
Johnson acknowledged his client was “frustrated” but claims Beckam couldn’t put her hands behind her back because Satterly was on top of her and her arms were pinned.
After a brief struggle, Satterly got off of Beckam, continuing to tell her to put her hands behind her back. He moved away from her, pointing his taser at her as she sat on the ground, according to his body cam video.
He continued yelling for her to put her hands behind her back.
“My hands are behind my back!” Beckam said. She appeared to be sitting on her hands, though the body camera view is partially obstructed by Satterly’s hands and the taser.
Satterly shot his taser at Beckam, the prongs hitting her in the chest. She screamed and fell backward before getting up and stumbling away from Satterly, her hands up in the air.
Satterly attempted to shoot his taser at her again but it did not fire.
“This just goes to show that he is not acting through reason,” attorney Johnson said. “It’s like he’s not even aware he shot it once and his probes are missing off the front of the stun gun. He’s clearly acting out of anger.”
At the time, another officer had Stephon Beckam on the ground, in the process of handcuffing him.
After Satterly ordered her to get on the ground, Nyshan Beckam laid down next to her husband, her hands behind her back.
Satterly reached over and appeared to push Stephon Beckam’s head into the pavement, telling the other officer later that he believed Beckam was resisting. The other officer told Satterly that Beckam was not resisting, according to body camera video.
“You can hear his head hit the concrete,” Johnson said. “He didn’t even do anything. … There’s just no reason to bang his head off the sidewalk.”
Seven thousand dollars of the $50,000 settlement went to Stephon Beckam.
“I ain’t doing nothing, man,” Stephon Beckam told Satterly after his head was pushed to the ground. “Why did you do my like that, bro?”
Satterly told the couple “the next time you are given instructions, you need to listen. Period.”
When Stephon Beckam continues arguing, Satterly told him to “shut his mouth.”
After the arrests, Satterly told other officers that Nyshan Beckam got “aggressive,” “jumped out of the van” and “came at him” when he opened the passenger side door.
Johnson said Satterly “yanked” Beckam out of the car and she fell to the ground.
In April, Conrad wrote in firing Satterly: "It is clear you made up your mind to tase (the woman); her subsequent compliance did not alter your course. I believe you acted out of anger rather than out of a perceived threat of immediate danger to an officer or another person.”
"Chief Conrad should answer for this"
On Jan. 14, 2017, the same month that police began investigating Satterly for the tasing, he used excessive force on a handcuffed man he was arresting, throwing the man to the ground and screaming at him during a traffic stop.
As the man was being arrested, he pointed out that Satterly had a tool in the backseat and asked if it could be moved or was a weapon, according to a summary of the incident in police records.
Satterly told the man, "It can be used as a weapon."
When the man responded, "Yeah, I bet it could," Satterly asked him if he was making a threat and threw him to the ground.
"In this situation, you overreacted and used physical force when it was not reasonable," Chief Conrad wrote. “After you took the handcuffed suspect to the ground, you again allowed your anger to take over and you continued to berate (the man) including yelling at him to ‘Listen to me boy!'"
Satterly admitted he could have handled the situation differently and the use of force was not appropriate, according to Conrad's letter.
Later that same year, on Nov. 22, 2017, Satterly "used unreasonable force" on another handcuffed suspect, taking him to the ground and injuring the man, according to the records.
The man filed a complaint on Nov. 28 saying that Satterly was called to a domestic violence situation and was handcuffed in front of his child. After being taken outside, the man said Satterly "took him to the ground while handcuffed," injuring the man's hand.
“You don’t want to listen; this is the end result … this is your end result right here,” Satterly said, according to the investigative summary.
When the man told Satterly “you’re hurting my hand,” the officer replied, “Well, you should have listened.”
Satterly also failed to provide first aid or call EMS for the injured man, according to a summary of the incident. The man was charged with terrorist threatening but later released without Satterly reporting it to his supervisor.
And Satterly was found to have lied about the incident, including that the citizen was injured, that he was arrested and released and whether force was used.
Johnson said Satterly never should have been able to arrest citizens after the tasing complaint and investigation.
“I think Chief Conrad should answer for this, as to why this officer continued to work,” he said.
Copyright 2019 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.