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civil rights violations

Ex-Louisiana state trooper charged in flashlight beating of Black motorist

Jacob Brown, a former Louisiana State Police trooper, was charged on Thursday with violating the civil rights of Aaron Larry Bowman, a Black man he hit 18 times with a tactical flashlight. 

If convicted, Brown, 31, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. This is the first criminal case to come out of a federal investigations into the assault of multiple Black motorists by members of Troop F, a police unit made up primarily of white officers, NBC News reports. 

Before Thursday's indictment, Brown was charged with using unreasonable force during the arrests of Bowman and two additional Black motorists; he was arrested in December and resigned three months later. The Associated Press obtained records showing that over the course of five years, Brown was part of 23 use-of-force incidents, with 19 involving Black people. 

In 2019, Bowman, 46, was pulled over for improper lane usage and removed from his car by deputies. Brown, who arrived on the scene when Bowman was out of the car, told investigators he "was trying to get involved," and claimed Bowman hit one of the deputies. He defended pummeling him with the flashlight by saying it was "pain compliance." After the incident, Brown did not report his use of force and put the wrong label on his body cam video; investigators wrote in internal records that this was "an intentional attempt to hide the video." 

Bowman was hospitalized after the beating with a broken jaw and ribs and a head gash. He sued the Louisiana State Police almost two years after the incident, and that's when the department launched an investigation. Video obtained by AP does not show Bowman hitting any deputies, and he has denied doing so. He still faces charges of battery of a police officer, resisting an officer, and improper lane usage.

Bowman's attorney, Donecia Banks-Miley, told AP the indictment of Brown is "a relief. We're just trying to remain hopeful and trust the process of justice. Aaron is extremely happy, and he just wants full justice."