The “back the blue” community would have us all believe that police brutality is a rare occurrence. But if that’s the case, why is it that many police officers appear to be comfortable discussing their own acts of brutality like it was common water cooler talk?
Last month, four Louisiana State Police troopers were arrested and charged after being accused of using excessive force, lying about multiple arrests and turning off their body cameras. According to WBRZ 2, the troopers were arrested in connection with two separate incidents in which officers allegedly beat suspects who were already handcuffed or surrendering. Since their arrests, investigators have found text messages shared between the troopers in which they discussed and boasted about beating 29-year-old Antonio Harris, who had reportedly gotten out of his car and laid on the ground after leading officers in a car chase in May 2020 in Franklin Parish, La.
The Washington Post reports that troopers Jacob Brown, Dakota DeMoss, George Harper and Randall Dickerson were arrested and released on bond in February.
On May 23, 2020, Brown reportedly pulled Harris over because he was drifting between lanes and found that he was driving with a suspended license and that he had multiple warrants for firearm violations. Harris allegedly sped off after Brown called for backup. After a 29-mile chase, police fired a “tire deflation device” at Harris’ car, after which he finally stopped. According to investigators, Harris then exited the car and “laid face down on the ground and extended his arms away from his body and his legs spread apart.”
From the Post:
But DeMoss, the first officer to respond, “delivered a knee strike” and slapped Harris in the face before turning off his body camera, records show. Moments later, Harper struck Harris several times in the head with a closed-fist punch “reinforced” by a flashlight, and flipped his body camera facedown. After Brown arrived, the officer, who reportedly turned off the audio on his body camera, allegedly knelt near the top of Harris’s head and began pulling his hair.
“I am going to punish you,” Harper said to Harris in an expletive-laden tirade, according to court records.
Harris was arrested on multiple charges, including driving under suspicion and resisting an officer. The filings say the officers produced “wholly untrue” reports saying Harris was resisting and continuing to flee.
“At no time did Harris resist arrest,” the internal investigation concluded.
According to court filings, the Troop F officers sent 14 text messages to each other in which they discussed the alleged beating of Harris.
“He gonna be sore tomorrow for sure,” Brown allegedly wrote in a group-text.
DeMoss is accused of writing, “He’s gonna have nightmares for a long time,” to which Brown allegedly replied, “Warms my heart knowing we could educate that young man.”
For at least two of the involved troopers, it apparently wasn’t their first rodeo.
More from the Post:
Brown, 30, who faces charges in two other excessive force cases, resigned on Wednesday. DeMoss, 28, and Harper, 26, were placed on administrative leave after an internal investigation concluded that Harris was beaten after he “immediately surrendered.”
Dickerson, 34, faces charges from a separate case in 2019 in which he allegedly struck a Black man he had pulled over for a traffic stop five times “towards his head and administering a knee strike to his body,” according to court records.
According to WBRZ, both Brown and Dickerson are accused of handcuffing a man suspected of drug possession after a 2019 traffic stop in Ouachita Parish. The two officers are alleged to have used “excessive and unjustifiable force,” after deactivating their body cameras. They’re also accused of giving “untruthful” statements that claimed the driver had resisted arrest. For all of that, they were charged with simple battery and malfeasance in office.
It’s also worth mentioning that this isn’t even the only recent story involving a Louisiana state trooper allegedly bragging about beating a suspect who had led officers on a chase.
Last month, The Root reported on the story of 49-year-old Ronald Greene—a Black man who died in police custody after leading troopers on a high-speed chase in 2019 in Monroe, La.
Now let’s count all the ways Greene’s case mirrors the allegations against the four Troop F officers.
1. Cops be lying.
The police officers in Greene’s case claimed Greene died from injuries sustained in the car crash that ended the case, but body camera footage allegedly showed State Trooper Kory York kicking and dragging Greene “on his stomach by the leg shackles,” according to State Police records. An attorney representing Greene’s family said the video also showed troopers “choking and beating the man, repeatedly jolting him with stun guns and dragging him face-down across the pavement,” the Associated Press reports.
2. York admitted he turned his body-cam off while on his way to the scene.
3. AP published a 27-second audio clip from the body-cam worn by Officer Chris Hollingsworth, who has since died in a car crash. Hollingsworth can be heard bragging that he “beat the ever-living fuck out of” Greene and “choked him and everything else trying to get him under control.”
4. The first officer to chase after Greene was none other than DeMoss.
Maybe there’s a reason Black people run from the police, and maybe that reason is that police brutality is more commonplace than many are willing to admit.