Ex-Louisville officers headed to prison for throwing drinks at random residents, cyberstalking
Two former Louisville Metro police officers were sentenced to time in federal prison Wednesday for throwing drinks at pedestrians while on duty.
Prosecutors with the United States Department of Justice say Curt Flynn and Bryan Wilson pelted random residents with drinks as they drove by in their police cruiser. This happened dozens of times between August 2018 and September 2019. FBI investigators recovered roughly 40 video recordings that showed Wilson and Flynn treating the civil rights violations like a game. The two officers were sentenced separately in back-to-back hearings.
While an attorney for Flynn called the incidents “high school, juvenile pranks,” U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Beaton said the officers’ actions appeared “premeditated, deliberate and repeated” and “shocked the conscience.”
Prosecutors also said Flynn and Wilson’s actions eroded the public’s trust in police.
“Instead of engaging in public service in the Ninth Mobile Division, [Flynn] was assaulting the public,” one prosecutor argued.
Beaton sentenced Flynn to three months in prison on a felony count of conspiracy to violate civil rights. Flynn will also be under supervised release for three years and is required to complete 120 hours of community service.
Before the judge issued his ruling, prosecutors played six of the recordings they recovered of Flynn and Wilson assaulting residents. In one, a man was knocked to the ground from the force of being hit by the drink. Someone in the police vehicle can be heard saying, "Dude fell down!"
In another video, one of the officers used a stereotypical accent as he pulled up next to someone who appeared to be an elderly Black woman and rolled down his window.
“Do you have change for a dollar?” an officer asked.
“How about a drink?” he said, before throwing the container at the woman.
Both Flynn and Wilson were members of the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Ninth Mobile Division, which focused on the historically Black neighborhoods of Shawnee and Russell, as well as parts of Iroquois. Prosecutors said the division had some of “the best of the best” focused on fighting violent crime and drug trafficking.
That division was also known for aggressive traffic stops, and generated a higher rate of policy violation investigations than the rest of the force, according to the Kentucky Center for Investigating Reporting and Newsy.
Flynn and Wilson admitted to sharing the videos they made with fellow officers in person and through text message.
Sticking with the plea agreement signed in June, prosecutors advocated for Flynn to do no time behind bars. The U.S. Probation Office had recommended he get 18 to 24 months in prison.
In brief comments, Flynn apologized for his actions and “harming people I was supposed to protect.” His wife, Jane, spoke as a character witness on his behalf. She downplayed the crimes her husband had admitted to, calling it a “childish prank.”
“He is a good man,” Jane said. “He is not the villainous, habitual human rights abuser prosecutors have made him out to be.”
One of Wilson’s victims speak out
In addition to the civil rights violation for throwing drinks, Wilson had also pleaded guilty in a separate cyberstalking case.
Wilson admitted in June to using law enforcement software to gather information on dozens of women. He said he worked with another individual to hack those women’s social media accounts and download risqué or sexually explicit images of them.
According to court documents, Wilson contacted at least eight women and attempted to extort them by threatening to send those images to their family, friends and employers unless they sent him other explicit material.
“Really, it’s difficult to quantify how much of an emotional burden this had on the women who were victims of his crimes,” a prosecutor told Beaton.
One of Wilson’s victims, a teacher in her early 20s, attended Wednesday’s sentencing to provide an impact statement. She told the court that Wilson turned her life upside down.
“He invaded my privacy, harassed me, put me through emotional trauma,” she testified.
In daily text message exchanges with Wilson, he threatened to send her images and videos to people in her life, the woman said. He sent one photo to one of her friends, which she said embarrassed her. The woman said she felt compelled to tell her school’s principal what was happening, which changed the dynamic of her workplace.
“I was just starting my career, but I felt like it was already over,” she said.
The woman also said Wilson sent her screenshots of the social media profiles of her family and friends along with his threats. At one point during the harassment, the woman said, she told her mother she was contemplating suicide.
“With every new day, I wasn’t sure if I was going to receive another text message threatening me, my family or my career,” she said. “I hate that I ever let Bryan [Wilson] push me to that point.”
At the end of her statement, the woman turned to Wilson and spoke to him directly.
“I really hope you try to be better,” she said. “I really do, because no one deserves to be in this position.”
In one instance, prosecutors said, Wilson did send a sexually explicit image to one of his victim’s employers.
Beaton sentenced Wilson to 30 months, or two and a half years, in prison, which was on the low end of what the U.S. Probation Office recommended based on federal sentencing guidelines. Wilson will be on supervised release for three years after incarceration, during which time his access to a computer will be restricted and monitored. He will also have to complete 120 hours of community service.
During his sentencing hearing, Wilson apologized to his ex-wife, his family and his victims. He said he understood his actions were unacceptable.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Wilson’s attorney Brian Butler said he believed his client was sincerely remorseful.
“People everyday come to court and say, ‘I’m sorry, judge,’” Butler said. “You don’t see people every day really own it like he did and I think that made a difference. As the judge said, he could have been sentenced to a much more severe sentence.”
Beaton is withholding final sentencing in Wilson’s case while prosecutors work with one of his victims, who is demanding restitution.
Wilson and Flynn both resigned from LMPD after their misconduct was discovered.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Flynn did not speak in court.