Louisiana: Police trooper charged after beating black man 18 times with torch during traffic stop

·3 min read

A former Louisiana police officer has been charged with a civil rights violation after hitting a black motorist 18 times with a torch during a traffic stop.

It is the first criminal case to emerge from federal investigations into the trooper's beatings of at least three black men.

In distressing body camera footage, kept secret for more than two years, Aaron Larry Bowman can be heard screaming, "I am not resisting", in between blows to the head.

A grand jury indicted Jacob Brown on Thursday for the 2019 beating, which left Mr Bowman with a broken jaw, broken ribs, and a cut on his head that required six staples to close.

Brown was charged with one count of deprivation of rights under colour of law, federal prosecutors said.

Bowman's attorney, Donecia Banks-Miley, called the indictment "a sigh of relief".

"We're just trying to remain hopeful and trust the process of justice," she told The Associated Press. "Aaron is extremely happy, and he just wants full justice."

Brown's attorney, Scott Wolleson, declined to comment.

Louisiana State Police records show Brown used force 23 times dating back to 2015 - of which 19 times were on black people.

He faces charges in two other cases of violent arrests of black motorists.

The 2019 incident, which took place near Mr Bowman's Monroe home, happened less than three weeks after troopers from the same force punched, stunned, and dragged another black motorist, Ronald Greene.

Mr Greene died in police custody on a rural roadside in northeast Louisiana.

Body camera footage of both beatings was kept under wraps for years, with Brown mislabelling his in an "intentional attempt to hide the video", investigators said.

State police didn't investigate the attack until 536 days later, after Mr Bowman filed a lawsuit.

"The department has previously acknowledged that it has open and ongoing criminal investigations into incidents involving the Louisiana State Police that resulted in death or bodily injury to arrestees," the Department Of Justice said in a statement.

"Those investigations remain ongoing."

Video and police records show Brown beat Mr Bowman with a torch 18 times in 24 seconds after deputies pulled him over for "improper lane usage".

Brown tried to claim the blows were "pain compliance" intended to get Mr Bowman, 46, into handcuffs, amid allegations he struck a deputy.

However, Mr Bowman denied hitting anyone and is not seen on the video being violent with officers.

He still faces a list of charges, including battery of a police officer, resisting an officer, and the traffic violation for which he was initially stopped.

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The Louisiana State Police's own tally shows that in recent years, 67% of its uses of force were against black people.

Colonel Lamar Davis, the head of the state police, said earlier this month that he would welcome such a probe if the department deems it necessary, but added he is working to correct the department's issues.

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