News May 13, 2022 at 10:00 am

White Louisiana state troopers accused of beating Black motorist, bragging about it charged

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

Francis Akhalbey May 13, 2022 at 10:00 am

May 13, 2022 at 10:00 am | News

Antonio Harris sustained injuries after he was allegedly beaten by three Louisiana state troopers -- Image via The Associated Press

Three White Louisiana State Police troopers accused of beating a Black man following a high-speed chase have been charged in connection with the 2020 incident. Following the incident, the accused officers allegedly bragged about the beating in text messages, saying the “whooping” would give the Black motorist “nightmares for a long time,” The Associated Press reported.

The victim, identified as Antonio Harris, ended up spitting out blood and sustained sore ribs and stomach pain for days in the aftermath of his arrest. The officers involved in the beating were identified as Jacob Brown, Dakota DeMoss and George “Kam” Harper. They have since been charged with misdemeanor simple battery.

The charges against the three officers come in the wake of heightened allegations over the state police’s use of excessive force notably against Black people. The law enforcement agency is also accused of having an institutional instinct to sweep such incidents under the rug.

Harris had surrendered with his face down when body camera footage showed the three officers kneeing, slapping and punching him. DeMoss was also seen pulling Harris to his feet by pulling his braids. A spokesperson for the state police, Lt. Melissa Matey, said the ways the troopers handled the arrest “are inexcusable and have no place in professional public safety services.”

An internal investigation into Harris’ beating determined the officers presented “wholly untrue” reports. They alleged the Black motorist did not stop in his attempt to flee, and he did not obey their orders. The accused troopers also claimed Harris fought with them before they administered what Brown labeled as “tactical strikes.” Brown, who also turned off his body-worn camera shortly after confronting Harris, did not make mention of the existence of any body-worn footage of the arrest when he spoke with state prosecutors.

“They kept saying ‘Stop resisting’ but I was never resisting,” Harris informed investigators. “As soon as they got to me, one of them kneed me in my face. One of them was squeezing my eyes.”

The troopers then allegedly went ahead to brag about the beating in text messages. “He gonna be sore tomorrow for sure,” Brown texted in one of the exchanged messages. “Warms my heart knowing we could educate that young man.”

The three troopers initially faced felony charges of malfeasance in office after they were arrested in February 2021. But those charges were not brought back by state prosecutors when a bill of information was filed in Franklin Parish, The Associated Press reported. The accused officers face six months in jail as well as a $1,000 fine for the misdemeanor simple battery charge.

“Obviously we would have liked stronger charges but we’re still hopeful the Department of Justice will bring a case,” Harris’ attorney, Michael Sterling, said.

Following the incident, DeMoss and Harper were terminated. Brown, who is also facing trial in a separate incident for allegedly striking another Black motorist with a flashlight, resigned. In that incident, the Black man was struck 18 times with the flashlight Brown had in his possession.

A federal grand jury that is looking into Harris’ case has also been hearing testimony in connection with the incident. This comes after officials initiated a months-long investigation to determine if the troopers used excessive force. It is, however, yet to be established if the U.S. Justice Department plans to pursue a civil rights case.

A federal grand jury is also similarly hearing testimony for the deadly arrest of Ronald Greene in 2019. But just like Harris’ case, the federal investigation into his death also hangs in the balance. Greene, 49, died after he was dragged and beaten in a struggle with Louisiana state troopers following his arrest on May 10, 2019. Police initially reported that Greene died in a car crash during a high-speed chase, but body camera footage that was leaked to the media showed otherwise. DeMoss is also being investigated for his involvement in Greene’s death.

But per The Associated Press, the Justice Department is not fully confident about successfully presenting a case against the state troopers involved in Greene’s death.

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