LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The city has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a woman who claimed she was groped by a Louisville Metro Police officer during a traffic stop in 2019.
Kali Coates was with her boyfriend and family members when she was arrested by police on January 5, 2019, after turning onto 28th Street from Virginia Avenue.
After ordering him out of the vehicle, Officer Tyler Gelnett placed his hands “inappropriately” in his “crotch area” and then in his underwear, according to the complaint filed in early 2020.
Then, after Gelnett moved Coates to the back of the car, he began a second search. At that point, she accuses Gelnett of “groping her buttocks and vagina to the point that another officer intervened and reprimanded him,” the lawsuit claims.
Police body camera video obtained by WDRB News shows another officer, a man, telling a visibly upset Coates that Gelnett was in training and apologized for the way she was searched, saying the officer would be punished.
“We apologize to you,” the unnamed officer told Coates after the traffic stopped, according to the video. “I want to personally apologize.”
Under the Feb. 11 settlement, “compromise of a questionable and disputed claim” is not an admission of guilt, according to documents obtained under Kentucky‘s Open Records Act.
In November 2020, Gelnett was charged with official misconduct and drug trafficking for allegedly seizing marijuana while doing business, but then giving it to a woman he was in a relationship with.
He resigned from the department and pleaded guilty to official misconduct in 2021.
In the Coates case, body camera footage shows Gelnett asking him to get out of the vehicle after the other officer said he smelled marijuana on a passenger.
After first searching Coates beside his vehicle, the other officer told Gelnett to bring him to the back of the car to search it.
Gelnett’s body camera doesn’t show exactly where he placed his hands the first time he searched Coates.
During the second search, Gelnett moved her hands to her lower abdomen, down her legs and appeared to touch her buttocks before the unnamed officer told her to stop and walk away from the scene, show the video.
Coates jumped when Gelnett touched her. “Jesus,” she said, according to the body camera video. “So rude.”
“Hey, hey, stop it, time,” the unnamed officer told Gelnett. “Free time. Free time. Go back.
After Gelnett walked away, the other officer told Coates that Gelnett was in formation and had not properly searched him. For example, the officer said Gelnett was supposed to use the back of his hand.
“He’s a new officer; I train him,” the anonymous officer said.
Coates told police that Gelnett “used her fingers” while searching her.
“I never had anyone…it was awkward,” she told the other officer.
Her boyfriend, who had also been removed from the vehicle, told the officer that Gelnett “looked dead in my face when he did that.”
“As soon as I saw him, I arrested him,” the officer told the couple. “Everything is recorded. I want to reassure you on this.
And the officer added that Gelnett would be punished for his actions.
“He had no idea what he was doing, I’ll be honest with you,” the officer said, according to body camera video.
While the passenger in the vehicle admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the day, nothing was found in the car and they were released without a ticket.
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