The state of Louisiana has dismissed charges against a Black motorist who was incarcerated for resisting arrest, despite being relentlessly beaten with a flashlight by one of the arresting state troopers.
Officials who viewed evidence regarding the case assessed the disgraced former officer, who assaulted and arrested the man, was untruthful in his account of the 2019 altercation and will soon face federal civil and criminal lawsuits connecting him to the man’s beating.
On Monday, Assistant Attorney General Darwin C. Miller announced his office will drop a bevy of charges against Monroe native Aaron Bowman, 47, related to a 2019 arrest. After taking over the case in February from District Attorney Robert S. Tew’s office at the request of Bowman’s lawyers, the state’s most senior attorneys believed the victim’s record on this matter should be cleaned, according to The Advocate.
Upon viewing the case, including footage from the officers’ bodycams, the AG’s office said there is “insufficient evidence” and “credibility issues associated with both the arresting and the assisting officers.”
Multiple stories about the encounter floated between agencies about the incident over the last three years.
However, an untruthful narrative about his conduct during the arrest ultimately landed the victim in jail on July 15, 2019, charging him with improper lane usage, aggravated flight from an officer, resisting an officer by force or violence, and simple battery of a police officer.
Now, the man’s defense counsel believes justice is on the horizon.
“It’s a step towards justice for him. There’s obviously a civil case, which will be the ultimate tell of justice,” Keith Whiddon, his lawyer in the criminal case, said. “But this is at least a small step towards justice for him.”
According to KNOE, Bowman’s other attorney, Donecia Banks-Miley, believes the charge should have been dropped in 2021.
“I felt that after Jacob Brown was indicted, this would exonerate our client, Aaron Bowman. Just because the footage was already out at that time showing that he was beaten,” she said. “So, I could not for the life of me, understand why Aaron still had these charges. Today, we’re just glad that he’s finally exonerated from these charges, and we want him to feel better and let the community know that Aaron did nothing wrong.”
In May of 2019, Bowman was hammered 18 times with a flashlight by Jacob Brown outside of his home, after being detained by several other agencies for an alleged traffic violation, News Star reported.
State Police, the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office, and other law enforcement bodies said they followed Bowman to his house after officers allegedly saw him drive over the center line in the middle of the road. Officers flashed the lights in their patrol car to initiate a traffic stop in front of the man’s home, in his driveway.
Late to arrive on the scene was Trooper Brown, who saw three officers “attempting to detain Bowman.” Using verbal commands, the officers manage to contain the suspect, trying to handcuff him and issue an arrest warrant, as he lay on the ground with his hands in front of him.
Court documents claimed the officer started beating the man with his flashlight. The tip of the weapon was customized with a “tactical cap” designed specifically to shatter vehicle glass. This adjustment made it a particularly dangerous weapon to use on Bowman.
Bowman was hospitalized and needed stitches.
The Attorney General’s office reviewed bodycam video from the incident and concluded Bowman did not appear to be aggressive toward the officer, despite him resisting arrest. It also showed Brown possibly violated the man’s civil rights by using excessive force in his detainment.
Investigators said Brown appears to be the only one hitting Bowman that day, further charging in the federal indictment Brown with “deprivation of rights under color of law.”
In 2020, Bowman filed a civil rights lawsuit against Brown and other law enforcement agents.
Shortly after this lawsuit, state police launched an internal review of the incident, and believed Brown acting improperly, charging him with one count each of aggravated second-degree battery and malfeasance in office, and saying he used “excessive and unjustifiable actions.”
A year later, federal prosecutors announced they were bringing the former trooper up on their own civil rights violation charges.
Brown was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 23, 2021. He was charged with aggravated second-degree battery, malfeasance in office, and falsifying the arrest documents. The misconduct indictment was Brown’s second last year. State prosecutors charged Brown and two other troopers with misdemeanor simple battery charges in connection with the violent 2020 arrest of another Black man, Antonio Brown. Brown led the troopers on a high-speed chase that ended with his surrender and a beating that would give him “nightmares for a long time,” as the officers bragged to each other in text messages.
DA Tew is now recused from Bowman’s case and has not issued a statement regarding the new findings. Before recusing himself, court documents have the DA on record saying, the civil lawsuit is “unfair to the officers.”
In a sworn court statement by Banks-Miley, Tew said to her on Oct. 1, 2021, “I will be frank with you, I am not going to gut the officers’ defense in their civil case by dismissing Aaron Bowman’s criminal charge of resisting arrest.”
According to the lawyer, Tew had an issue with the impact of the order, believing by dropping Bowman’s charges, the civil suits have a better chance of winning.
“Hey, (if) they dismiss the civil case, I would look at Bowman’s charges then.”
“I tell you what, I withdraw that statement,” the document quoted Tew as saying. “I am going to prosecute all of Bowman’s charges regardless if (sic) you drop the civil suit or not.”
Brown’s lawyer, attorney Scott Wolleson, is gearing up for battle. Court documents say they have filed a few motions requesting to continue his criminal trial in state court.
Recently, the Louisiana State Police has been marred with allegations of use of excessive force and racism.
In June, the U.S. Justice Department announced it will be investigating the force after meaningful evidence has been presented showing a pattern of officers turning a blind eye to fellow officers savagely beating mostly Black men during stops. One case of special interest surrounds the death of Ronald Greene, an African American man who died while in police custody following being assaulted by cops in 2019.
Greene and Bowman were assaulted within months of each other.