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Former Louisville Officer Sentenced for Hitting Kneeling Protester in the Head With a Baton

Former officer Cory Evans struck Marty Chester on the back of the head while he was kneeling on the ground in surrender on the night of May 31, 2020.

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Screenshot: WHAS11 (Fair Use)

Former Louisville Metro Police officer Cory Evans was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday for striking a protester in the head with a baton during a May 2020 demonstration over Breonna Taylor’s death. Along with his prison sentence, the 34 year-old former veteran was also sentenced to two years of supervised release.

On the night of May 31, 2020, Evans was arresting individuals for violating curfew and unlawful assembly when he struck Marty Chester who was already kneeling on the ground in surrender. Evans did not have his body camera on. Then to make matters worse, Evans repeatedly lied to his supervisor about Chester’s injuries, claiming that he pulled the Chester off of a fence that he attempted to climb, which caused him to hit his head.

Evans pled guilty to violating the Constitution and using unreasonable force last August, according to the Louisville Courier Journal, after resigning from the force the month before.

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Here’s more from the Courier Journal:

Evans pleaded guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law last August, admitting he’d struck Chester. He told WAVE3 he did so to avoid a potentially longer prison sentence.

At the sentencing, Chester and his parents spoke publicly, rebuking Evans for abusing his power and beating Chester “like an animal.”

Chester suffered a gash on his head, needed three staples and lost his hearing for several months. He also said he has experienced anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder since the assault.

“You have stolen my security, Mr. Evans,” Chester said. He urged U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings to give him the maximum sentence and show him “the same lack of mercy he showed me as I bled out.”

Because of the felony, Evans said he “lost everything,” including both his potential police and military pensions and benefits.

“I was tired. I was broken. I was restless,” he said of the night of his crime. It was his anniversary, he said, and he just wanted to be home with his family.

“The only thing I have left is my family,” he said.

Prosecutors argued for a sentence of four years in prison, while Evans’ attorney asked for probation in lieu of prison.

Jennings told both sides their requests were not appropriate: four years is too much, but no prison is not enough for the “very serious offense.” In addition to two years in prison, Evans will also have to pay $1,962.85 in restitution.

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“Former officer Evans abused his authority by violently retaliating against a surrendering arrestee who had been exercising his First Amendment rights during a demonstration in Louisville, during the racial justice demonstrations in the spring of 2020,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said, according to NBC News. “The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable officers who violate their oath and the Constitution.”

“I don’t deny that he was hit,” Evans told WAVE3 News in an interview. “I deny that I hit him with the intent or malice.”