The trooper, Jacob Brown, who was charged with assaulting Aaron Larry Bowman in May 2019 and later resigned, defended the attack as “pain compliance.”
Aug. 25, 2021, 6:43 p.m. ET
Body-camera footage publicly emerged on Wednesday showing a Louisiana State Police trooper repeatedly clubbing a Black man on the head and chest with a flashlight while the man was pinned to the ground after a traffic stop in 2019, in what the white trooper called “pain compliance.”
The beating left the man, Aaron Larry Bowman, with a broken jaw, three fractured ribs, a broken wrist and a gash to his head that required six staples to close, said a lawyer who is representing him in a civil rights lawsuit filed last year in Louisiana against the State Police.
The trooper, Jacob Brown, 31, of Rayville, La., was arrested in February on charges of aggravated second-degree battery and malfeasance in office in connection with the assault, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Mr. Brown, who is facing criminal charges in two unrelated excessive-force cases, resigned one month later.
In the video from the night of May 30, 2019, which was first obtained and published by The Associated Press, Mr. Bowman pleads with law enforcement officers in Monroe, La., that he is cooperating with them. He was struck about 18 times by Mr. Brown with a flashlight as he lay face down on the ground.
“I’m not resisting,” Mr. Bowman yells in between the blows. “I’m not resisting.” He was later taken to a hospital.
Mr. Bowman, who is now 46 and lives in Monroe, was charged with resisting a police officer with force or violence, battery of a police officer, flight from an officer and improper lane use.
In an offense report filed with the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office, a deputy said that Mr. Bowman had ignored his lights and sirens as the deputy tried to pull him over after the S.U.V. that Mr. Bowman was driving had crossed the centerline of a road. The deputy said that Mr. Bowman had struck him on the head with a closed fist and had struggled with him after telling officers that he had been afraid to pull over and wanted to park the vehicle at his home in case he went to jail.
The encounter occurred less than three weeks after the death of another Black motorist, Ronald Greene, who body-camera footage showed had been dragged, beaten and shocked with a stun gun by troopers while in custody outside Monroe. The troopers were assigned to Troop F in Monroe, where Mr. Brown was based.
Now the subject of a Justice Department investigation into police brutality and obstruction, the Louisiana State Police attributed the cause of Mr. Greene’s death to a car crash after a high-speed chase and initially made no mention of the use of force by troopers. At least four troopers in Louisiana are facing charges related to excessive force.
A Louisiana State Police spokeswoman said in an email on Wednesday that an investigation had determined that Mr. Brown’s body-camera footage of his encounter with Mr. Bowman had been “intentionally mislabeled.”
“As the investigation continued, detectives concluded that Brown engaged in excessive and unjustifiable actions and failed to report the use of force to his supervisors,” said the spokeswoman, Lt. Melissa Matey.
Two lawyers who have represented Mr. Brown in the past did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
According to court documents in another one of those cases, Mr. Brown bragged in text messages to several other troopers about using force against a Black man who had led officers on a chase in May 2020 in Franklin County, La.
“He gonna be sore tomorrow for sure,” Mr. Brown wrote. “LMAO … warms my heart knowing we could educate that young man.”
When investigators asked Mr. Brown about his use of force against Mr. Bowman, he told them that he had used his a flashlight as a baton as part of what he called “pain compliance,” according to an affidavit.
A lawyer for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections, which includes the State Police, referred questions to the state attorney general’s office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Shreveport, La., confirmed in an email on Wednesday that the F.B.I. and the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department were investigating the case.
“If the investigation reveals prosecutable violations of any federal criminal statutes, the department will take appropriate action,” said the spokeswoman, Vicki T. Chance.
A lawyer who represents Mr. Bowman and Mr. Greene’s family said on Wednesday that Mr. Bowman had first seen the body-camera footage about a month ago and had been traumatized by it. He said that the Louisiana State Police had been forced to turn the recording over to Mr. Bowman’s defense lawyer as he fights the criminal charges against him.
“This is something that he relives every day,” said the lawyer, Ron Haley. “The emotional scars will never be healed from this.”
Keith Whiddon, a defense lawyer for Mr. Bowman, said on Wednesday that his client had pleaded not guilty to the four charges against him. Mr. Bowman’s next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 20.
The A.P. did not say how it had gotten the body-camera footage, which was obtained later on Wednesday by The New York Times. The A.P., citing State Police records, reported that Mr. Brown had been involved in 23 instances that involved use of force, dating to 2015 — 19 of them targeting Black people.
The Louisiana State Police did not immediately make those records available on Wednesday. The agency’s spokeswoman said that it would require a public records request, for which there is an extensive waiting list.
She also did not immediately confirm the number of use-of-force cases involving Mr. Brown, who the television station WBRZ reported last October is the son of Bob Brown, a former assistant superintendent of the Louisiana State Police and its now-retired chief of staff.