Three weeks after a trooper choked and slammed a Black driver in a traffic stop, the Mississippi Highway Patrol is saying the driver failed to comply with nearly 60 lawful orders from troopers on the scene.
Trooper Brandon Berry told driver, Robert Morton, to “put your hands behind your back” or to “give me your hands” 23 times, Mississippi Highway Patrol Capt. Johnny Poulos said in a statement to Atlanta Black Star Saturday.
Berry also told Morton to “get on the ground” 13 times.
“Morton never obeyed these orders,” Poulos said.
Attorney Carlos Moore, who is representing Morton, told Atlanta Black Star in a phone interview Tuesday that Morton’s first appearance in court is set for Thursday, and he plans to plead not guilty of all the charges.
Moore also called the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s claim that troopers gave his client almost 60 orders on the scene “clearly excessive.”
The incident initially started as a traffic stop July 12, during which Berry told Morton he was being pulled over for speeding.
Berry then asked five times for Morton to provide his driver’s license and proof of liability insurance, Poulos said. He refused and was asked twice to step out of the car and place his hands on his head with his fingers interlocking, Poulos said.
Video Morton’s fiancée, Porsha Shields, took of the incident showed the man with his hands behind him for much of the encounter.
But at one point when Berry was trying to handcuff him, the video showed Morton turn around and Berry pull out his gun.
“When Morton twisted around after hearing handcuffs clicking, Trooper Berry was pushed toward the highway and oncoming traffic,” Poulos said.
Berry called for backup, and Shields’ video showed Trooper James Scott stepping out of a car and quickly walking up to Morton.
“Trooper Scott witnessed Morton pulling his hands out of his pockets and ordered Morton to get his hands behind his back,” Poulos said.
The video showed Scott grab Morton’s neck and slam him against the a car.
“Put your f—ing hands behind your back,” Scott said in the video.
The two troopers then wrestled Morton to the ground with Shields repeatedly screaming that they didn’t have to do that.
“Y’all supposed to be out here protecting us,” she said. “Y’all sitting up here showing your g—— a–.”
Shields told Keyzz Entertainment Television that the video doesn’t show how she was apprehended but that Scott choked and slammed her against a vehicle even though she explained she was pregnant.
“I truly felt that I should have never told him I was pregnant because it seemed like he became more aggressive,” she said. “And, what hurts the most is knowing that my 4-year-old son witnessed me screaming, crying and getting assaulted as this event will psychologically impact us forever.”
Poulos didn’t mention Shields’ arrest in his statement to Atlanta Black Star, but Clay County jail records showed both Morton and Shields were arrested in the incident and released a few hours later.
Authorities later learned Morton is on federal probation with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.
He had pleaded guilty to armed bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, Poulos said.
Morton was charged with two counts of malicious mischief under $500 and one count each of speeding more than 20 mph over the speed limit, child restraint law, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, seat belt violation and failure to possess and display identification on demand.
He posted a $1,754 bond, the Clay County jail reported.
Shields was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. She posted a $615.50 bond.