The three Louisiana State Police officers who bragged over text messages about violently beating motorist Antonio Harris are being charged by state prosecutors, reported NPR. The officers are facing misdemeanor simple battery charges for using excessive force against Harris.
Per the body camera footage, former troopers Jacob Brown, Dakota DeMoss and George “Kam” Harper dog-piled onto Harris in a cornfield after a high-speed chase. The three kneed Harris, slapped him and punched him while he was face down with his arms and legs spread apart.
“They kept saying ‘Stop resisting’ but I was never resisting. As soon as they got to me, one of them kneed me in my face. One of them was squeezing my eyes,” Harris said to investigators, per NPR.
Per the internal investigation, the troopers shared 14 messages with one another making jokes about the incident and mocking Harris. NPR reported he suffered from sore ribs and stomach pain, spitting up blood as a result of the incident.
More on the troopers’ arrest from NPR:
State police had arrested the troopers in February 2021 on felony charges of malfeasance in office, but local prosecutors elected not to bring that count last week when filing a bill of information in Franklin Parish. Misdemeanor simple battery in Louisiana carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
“Obviously we would have liked stronger charges but we’re still hopeful the Department of Justice will bring a case,” said Harris’ attorney, Michael Sterling.
A federal grand jury in Lafayette has been hearing testimony in the case following a months-long investigation into whether the troopers used excessive force. But it remains unclear whether the U.S. Justice Department intends to move forward with a civil rights case.
The troopers were also suspected of trying to cover up the incident. DeMoss powered off his body camera after delivering the first strike to Harris. Brown never told state prosecutors there was body camera footage of the incident.
To no surprise at all, DeMoss was already under investigation for his role in the death of motorist Ronald Greene and Brown was caught on dash camera slamming another Black motorist on the hood of a police vehicle. All three officers who assaulted Harris were part of a division of troopers known for a pattern of violence and getting away with it, per an AP investigation.
“These things are racially motivated. It doesn’t seem you could have this level of criminality going on without it being something much more sinister,” said Alanah Odoms, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana via AP News.