An ex-Louisiana State Police trooper was charged Thursday with violating the civil rights of a Black motorist by pounding him 18 times with a tactical flashlight during a traffic stop.
The grand jury indictment of Jacob Brown in the assault on Aaron Larry Bowman in 2019 was the first criminal case to emerge from the federal investigation into the beatings of several Black motorists by members of a mostly white State Police unit known as Troop F.
Brown, 31, was charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander Van Hook of the Western District of Louisiana and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement.
He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if he is convicted, the prosecutors said.
Bowman, 46, wound up in the hospital with a broken jaw, busted ribs and a head gash. His attorney, Donecia Banks-Miley, said the indictment was “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.”
There was no immediate comment from Brown’s attorney, Scott Wolleson.
Brown was already facing state criminal charges in connection with arrests of Bowman and two other Black motorists when the federal indictment was handed up, accusing him of using “unreasonable force during an arrest.”
“Specifically, Brown repeatedly struck A.B. in the head and body with a metal flashlight with a tactical cap, without legal justification,” the indictment reads, noting that a tactical cap is designed to break glass.
The federal investigation of Troop F was launched after another Black motorist, Ronald Greene, died two years ago following a high-speed chase. Body camera video obtained by the AP showed Greene, 49, who was Black, being stunned, punched, dragged and left without medical assistance for about 9 minutes on a rural road near Monroe.
Brown was not involved in the deadly Greene incident, nor was he initially involved in the arrest of Bowman. By the time Brown arrived, local deputies had already removed Bowman from his vehicle.
Brown later told investigators that he “was in the area and was trying to get involved.” He claimed that Bowman had struck a deputy and that the blows he rained down on him were “pain compliance” to get him into handcuffs.
But Brown initially failed to report his use of force and mislabeled his body camera video in what investigators described in internal records as “an intentional attempt to hide the video,” The Baton Rouge Advocate reported.
As a result, State Police didn’t investigate the attack until nearly two years later, after Bowman sued the department.
Bowman, who denied hitting anyone, was not seen being violent with officers on the video obtained by the AP. Nevertheless, he still faces charges of battery of a police officer, resisting an officer and the traffic violation for which he was initially stopped, improper lane usage.
Brown is apparently no stranger to violence. Records obtained by the AP showed that he was involved in 23 use-of-force incidents dating to 2015 — 19 of them involving Black people.
Brown, who was arrested in December, resigned in March.