Beating victim cleared as Louisiana trooper awaits trial
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana has dropped its case against a Black man whose severe beating before his arrest in 2019 led to criminal charges and lawsuits against a state trooper.
A traffic violation and charges of resisting an officer had been hanging over Aaron Bowman for two years. Court documents show the Louisiana Attorney General’s office moved to dismiss the charges against Bowman on Monday, citing “insufficient evidence to support prosecution” and “credibility issues” with the officers who arrested him.
Former state trooper Jacob Brown faces a federal charge of violating Bowman’s civil rights in connection with the beating in May 2019. He has pleaded not guilty. A trial date of March 20 was set Tuesday.
The federal indictment accuses Brown of beating Bowman with a flashlight that had a “tactical cap” designed to break glass.
Video and police records show Bowman was struck 18 times with a flashlight in 24 seconds. Records show it happened when he pulled into the driveway of his home in Monroe after police tried to pull him over for improper lane usage. He was not immediately taken into custody after the beating, but was arrested on a warrant issued a few days later.
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The Attorney General’s Office took over prosecution of the charges against Bowman after his attorneys asked a court to recuse the local prosecutor, 4th Judicial District Attorney Robert Tew.
Bowman is suing state police and multiple Ouachita Parish agencies in civil court.
In the federal criminal case, Brown is charged with “deprivation of rights under color of law.”
Bowman’s case came to light as scrutiny of the Louisiana State Police intensified amid allegations of use of excessive force and racism.
The U.S. Justice Department last month announced a sweeping civil rights investigation of the agency amid mounting evidence of a pattern of looking away from beatings of mostly Black men, including the 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene, who died in custody after being beaten following a chase.
The announcement followed an Associated Press investigation that found at least a dozen cases over the past decade in which state police troopers or their bosses ignored or concealed evidence of beatings, deflected blame and impeded efforts to root out misconduct. Dozens of current and former troopers said the beatings were countenanced by a culture of impunity, nepotism and, in some cases, outright racism.