Scottie Scheffler case: Officer broke rules by not turning on body camera in golfer's arrest, chief says

  • A Louisville, Kentucky, police detective violated department policy by not turning on his body-worn camera while arresting Scottie Scheffler, the No. 1 golfer in the world, the city's police chief said.
  • Scheffler was charged last week, accused of assaulting an officer with his car as he tried to drive into the golf club hosting the PGA Championship.
  • Scheffler and his lawyer said the incident was the result of a misunderstanding, and that he had no intent to harm the detective, Bryan Gillis.

A Louisville, Kentucky, police detective violated department policy by not activating his body camera during his controversial arrest of Scottie Scheffler last week when the top-ranked golfer was trying to drive into the PGA Championship venue, the city's police chief said Thursday.

Detective Bryan Gillis "should have turned on his body-worn camera but did not," Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel said at a press conference.

"This officer has received corrective action for this policy violation" because of the seriousness of the violation, Gwinn-Villaroel said.

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg at the press conference said the city is releasing video footage from the Friday morning incident showing the moments after Gillis arrested the 27-year-old Scheffler for allegedly assaulting him with his car as the golfer drove around other vehicles.

The footage came from a pole camera and a police car dashboard camera, Greenberg said.

Greenberg said that "activating body-worn cameras is critically important to our police department."

Louisville Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel, right, speaks to reporter as Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg listens at left during a press conference Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Louisville, Ky., regarding the arrest of PGA golfer Scottie Scheffler.

Timothy D. Easley | APLouisville Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel, right, speaks to reporter as Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg listens at left during a press conference Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Louisville, Ky., regarding the arrest of PGA golfer Scottie Scheffler.

Louisville police policy requires officers to "maintain their [body-worn cameras] in a constant state of operational readiness" and for officers to "immediately activate their [body-worn cameras] in recording mode prior to engaging in all law enforcement activities or encounters."

Some legal analysts expected the press conference to announce the reduction of felony charges against Scheffler. But neither the mayor nor police chief talked about the status of the case, other than saying that they would not release any other new information besides the video footage.

"We have to respect the legal process, and that's what we are going to do," Greenberg said.

Louisville police were strongly criticized for the fatal shooting in March 2020 of Breonna Taylor during the execution of a no-knock warrant at her apartment as part of an investigation of a former boyfriend of Taylor's who did not live with her.

Police initially said the shooting was not captured on video because officers on the team that executed the warrant did not wear body cameras. But subsequent news reports said a crime scene photograph showed at least one officer who participated in the raid wearing a body camera, and another cop wearing a holder for a camera.

Taylor's shooting, and a Minneapolis police officer's murder of George Floyd two months later, which was captured on bystanders' video, sparked nationwide protests over the excessive use of force by police.

    The Department of Justice in March 2023 released a scathing report on the Louisville police department that found the agency engaged in a pattern of conduct including the use of excessive force, unlawful execution of search warrants, unlawful stops and searches, and discrimination "against Black people in its enforcement activities."

    "For years, LMPD has practiced an aggressive style of policing that it deploys selectively, especially against Black people, but also against vulnerable people throughout the city," the DOJ said in its report.

    Scheffler, who is White, is charged with second-degree assault on a police officer — a felony — third-degree misdemeanor criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from an officer directing traffic.

    His arrest in Louisville occurred as police were responding to the death of a 69-year-old man who was killed by a shuttle bus outside the Valhalla Golf Club, the site of the PGA Championship last week.

    Police said Scheffler drove on the median of a road outside the golf club and failed to comply with Gillis' order to stop his vehicle.

    Scheffler's car then "accelerated forward, dragging [Gillis] to the ground," the police report said.

    Gillis "suffered pain, swelling, and abrasions to his left wrist and knee" and was taken to a hospital, according to the report.

    Scheffler was released without bail within hours and returned to the club to tee off in time for the second round of the tournament.

    Scottie Scheffler gives his putter to his caddie, Ted Scott, on the eighth green during the first round of PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 16, 2024 in Louisville, Kentucky. 

    Ben Jared | PGA Tour | Getty ImagesScottie Scheffler gives his putter to his caddie, Ted Scott, on the eighth green during the first round of PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 16, 2024 in Louisville, Kentucky.

    He said his arrest was the result of a "big misunderstanding."

    "This morning, I was proceeding as directed by police officers. It was a very chaotic situation, understandably so considering the tragic accident that had occurred earlier," Scheffler said in a post on his official Instagram account.

    "There was a big misunderstanding of what I thought I was being asked to do," he said. "I never intended to disregard any of the instructions."

    Scheffler's lawyer Steven Romines last week said Scheffler was told by another officer to drive around the other vehicles.

    Romines said that "multiple eyewitnesses have confirmed that he did not do anything wrong but was simply proceeding as directed."

    "He stopped immediately upon being directed to and never at any point assaulted any officer with his vehicle," the lawyer said.

    Scheffler is due to be arraigned on June 3 and will plead not guilty, his lawyer has said.

    Scheffler is playing this week in the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.

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