Disclaimer: This post contains mention of police brutality.
Louisiana prosecutors have charged three former state troopers with misdemeanor simple battery for the brutal 2020 beating of Antonio Harris, a Black motorist.
After a high-speed chase that ended at a cornfield in rural Franklin Parish, former troopers Jacob Brown, Dakota DeMoss, and George “Kam” Harper, all white, are seen on body cam footage assaulting Harris with excessive force, tasing him as he’s down and being wrangled by all men, and pulling him to his feet by his braids.
A state investigation revealed the ex-troopers boasted about the “whoopin” through text, finding 14 exchanges with “lol” and “haha” responses and claims the beat down would give Harris “nightmares for a long time.”
While attorneys for the men refused to comment, state police representative Lt. Melissa Matey said the troopers’ actions “are inexcusable and have no place in professional public safety services.”
According to the Associated Press, the former troopers were arrested on felony malfeasance charges in February 2021, but prosecutors declined to include those charges when a bill of information was filed. The charge the three men face carries only a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
“Obviously we would have liked stronger charges but we’re still hopeful the Department of Justice will bring a case,” said Michael Sterling, Harris’ attorney.
“They kept saying ‘Stop resisting’ but I was never resisting,” Harris told authorities. “As soon as they got to me, one of them kneed me in my face. One of them was squeezing my eyes.”
After an internal probe, investigators found the troopers’ accounts of the arrest were “wholly untrue,” alleging Harris attempted to escape and refused to comply with their demands. Per the report, Brown said because of this, they began to beat him in what he called “tactical strikes.”
A surrendered Harris suffered a “knee strike” and open-palm slap by DeMoss, first to arrive on scene, before turning off his body cam. Harper then punched him in the head multiple times with a flashlight-“reinforced” fist while Brown pulled his hair. Afterwards, DeMoss is seen dragging Harris up to his feet by his hair, court records state.
“He gonna be sore tomorrow for sure,” Brown wrote in a text. “Warms my heart knowing we could educate that young man.”
It is unclear whether the Department of Justice will conjure a civil rights case on grounds of excessive force, following months of investigation and testimony.