State Watch

Footage of white officer striking Black motorist with flashlight kept secret for over 2 years

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Body camera footage showing a Louisiana State Police trooper striking a Black motorist 18 times with a flashlight was released Wednesday, more than two years after the May 2019 incident. 

The footage, obtained and published by The Associated Press, shows the moments after state troopers pulled over Aaron Larry Bowman for a traffic violation, with white trooper Jacob Brown, who has since resigned, bashing Bowman’s head and body with an eight-inch aluminum flashlight. 

According to an investigative report from the incident, Brown hit Bowman 18 times within 24 seconds and began hitting him within two seconds of “initial contact.” 

“Give me your f—ing hands!” the trooper could be heard shouting. “I ain’t messing with you.”

Bowman, 46, repeatedly tried telling troopers that he wasn’t attempting to resist and at one point said, “I’m not fighting you. You’re fighting me.”

“Shut the f— up!” Brown responded. “You ain’t listening.”

Bowman, who has filed a civil lawsuit against the police department, said the incident left him with a broken jaw, three broken ribs, a broken wrist and a gash to his head that required six staples. 

The violent police encounter is one of several reported uses of force against Black Americans that have prompted both federal and internal investigations into Louisiana State Police over the incidents and potential attempts to cover them up. 

The attack on Bowman occurred just three weeks after troopers from the same force stunned, punched and dragged Ronald Greene out of a car before he died. 

Police had also repeatedly refused to release body camera footage from Greene’s death until it was obtained and published by the AP earlier this year. 

Brown, who stepped down from the agency in March, is facing potential federal charges from prosecutors’ ongoing probe as well as state charges of second-degree battery and malfeasance in connection with Bowman’s beating, according to the AP. 

The news agency reported that by the time of his resignation, Brown had recorded 23 use-of-force incidents dating back to 2015, with 19 involving Black people. 

Brown is also facing state charges in connection with two additional violent arrests of Black motorists. The AP reported that the officer bragged about one of the incidents in a group chat with other officers, writing that the suspect would “be sore” and “it warms my heart knowing we could educate that young man.”

The state police department said in a statement Wednesday that in the incident involving Bowman, Brown “engaged in excessive and unjustifiable actions,” did not report the use of force to supervisors and “intentionally mislabeled” body camera footage from the incident. 

The department first launched an investigation into the incident in October 2020 upon receiving Bowman’s civil lawsuit. 

Louisiana State Police Capt. Nick Manale told The Hill that footage from the incident wasn’t discovered until the department conducted a detailed search of body camera video. 

Manale added that since the department first launched the probe, it has “carefully evaluated and examined our processes and operational practices, which led to fundamental improvements to our operations, training, and administration.” 

“These reforms have led to additional administrative and criminal investigations, ensured the implementation of critical changes throughout the department, and continued the process of building trust within the communities we serve,” he added. 

— Updated 4:47 p.m.

Tags anti-police brutality Louisiana Louisiana State Police police use of force ronald greene The Associated Press

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