A federal jury decided to relieve a white state trooper in Louisiana of the civil rights violation charges he faced after he clobbered and seriously wounded a Black man with a flashlight during an arrest in 2019.
In May of that year, Aaron Larry Bowman was pulled over for “improper lane usage” and was forcibly removed from his car by state troopers. When former trooper Jacob Brown, 32, showed up at the scene, he pulled Bowman into the driveway of his home in Monroe, then battered him with a flashlight 18 times in 24 seconds.
Bowman was heard screaming, “I’m not resisting! I’m not resisting!” on body camera footage while he was being beaten. He was left with a broken jaw, three broken ribs, a broken wrist, and a gash to his head that required staples to close.
It took state police nearly two years to investigate the attack, and they only launched a probe after Bowman filed a civil rights lawsuit. Investigators described Brown’s actions as “excessive and unjustifiable” and noted that he failed to report the use of force to his bosses and “intentionally mislabeled” his body camera footage.
That footage was never released by state troopers. The Associated Press published it alongside their findings into how Louisiana state troopers routinely bury evidence of the numerous instances where they exercise excessive use of force against people of color.
Brown was ultimately indicted by a grand jury for a civil rights violation and was charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. To defend his actions, he called the beating “pain compliance,” referring to a variety of pain-inducing techniques available to officers to “persuade” an uncooperative arrestee to comply with their demands.
It only took three days for jurors to find Brown not guilty.
Afterward, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana Brandon B. Brown stated, “We believe that this victim’s civil rights were violated.”
Before Brown stepped down from his position, state police records show he was involved in 23 use-of-force incidents dating to 2015 to 2019 of which targeted Black people.
He is still facing state charges for his part in another violent arrest of another Black motorist that he bragged about in a group chat with other troopers, stating, “it warms my heart knowing we could educate that young man.”
Brown’s defense attorney Scott Wolleson told The Associated Press he was glad the verdict in Bowman’s case came down in Brown’s favor.
“The men and women of the jury recognized the risks law enforcement officers like Jacob Brown face on our behalf every day,” Wolleson said.
Bowman’s attorney Ron Haley stated the acquittal “shows it’s incredibly hard to prove a civil rights violation in federal court.” He also said the attack “fundamentally changed” Bowman’s life.
Federal prosecutors are still mulling over another high-profile case of police brutality in Louisiana that took place less than three weeks before the attack on Bowman. In that case, state troopers beat, stunned, and dragged Ronald Greene, another Black driver. Right after that assault, Greene died in police custody on a rural roadside. Body camera footage of that traffic stop was also mysteriously kept hidden until the Associated Press published it alongside video footage of Brown’s beating and a host of other body camera videos showing troopers’ excessive use of force.
That investigation happened to be the nudge the U.S. Justice Department needed to launch a civil rights probe examining racist police practices carried out by Louisiana State Police.
Had Brown been convicted, he would have faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.