Troopers boasted their beating would give Black man ‘nightmares for a long time’
Published 10:12 pm Friday, March 12, 2021
Louisiana State Police troopers joked in a group text about beating a Black man after a high-speed chase last year, saying the “whoopin” would give the man “nightmares for a long time,” according to new court filings.
“He gonna be sore tomorrow for sure,” Trooper Jacob Brown, who was charged in the case and resigned Wednesday, texted three of his colleagues. “Warms my heart knowing we could educate that young man.”
The May arrest of 29-year-old Antonio Harris — who authorities say was beaten by troopers even after he “immediately surrendered” — bears a strong resemblance to the State Police pursuit a year earlier that ended in the still-unexplained death of another Black motorist, Ronald Greene.
Greene’s death was captured on body-worn camera footage the agency refuses to release and remains the subject of a federal civil rights investigation.
Brown, 30, who faces charges in two other excessive-force cases, had pulled Harris over for a minor traffic violation on Interstate 20 in Richland Parish when Harris reentered his vehicle and fled, State Police said.
The ensuing chase spanned 29 miles (47 kilometers), reached speeds of 150 mph (240 km/h) and ended only after deputy sheriffs deployed a “tire deflation device” that caused Harris to drive into a ditch, the court records show.
An internal investigation found the responding troopers, who are white, attacked Harris even though he had surrendered and “laid face down (prone) on the ground and extended his arms away from his body and his legs spread apart.”
The first arriving trooper, Dakota DeMoss, “delivered a knee strike” to Harris and slapped him in the face with an open palm before powering off his body-worn camera, the court records show. DeMoss, 28, also initiated Greene’s arrest in May 2019, though State Police have not provided any details about his involvement.
Another trooper, George Harper, 26, punched Harris in the head several times with a fist “reinforced” by a flashlight and threatened to “punish” Harris, while Brown pulled the man’s hair.
“At no time did Harris resist arrest,” the State Police internal investigation concluded.
The troopers produced “wholly untrue” reports saying Harris was resisting and continuing to flee, the filings say, and they sought to conceal from investigators that there was bodycam video. They also exchanged 14 text messages peppered with “lol” and “haha” responses in which they boasted about the beating and mocked Harris.
“BET he wont run from a full grown bear again,” Brown wrote.
“Bet he don’t even cross into LA anymore,” DeMoss responded, who earlier jeered that Harris was “still digesting that ass whoopin.”
“He gonna spread the word that’s for damn sure,” Harper texted back.
DeMoss and Harper also are charged in Harris’ arrest and were placed on administrative leave after the internal investigation.
The filings show DeMoss originally received only counseling for his role in Harris’ beating, admonished for turning his FM radio up “extremely loud” during the chase and switching stations “in order to find the right song.”
A message sent to the attorney for the other troopers was not immediately returned. Brown’s attorney declined to comment.
Efforts to reach Harris, who appears to be from Mississippi, were not immediately successful.
The new court filings were first reported by Sound Off Louisiana, a local blog.
Harris’ arrest drew new attention after a monthslong internal investigation into use-of-force incidents in the northern part of the state — a probe begun amid mounting scrutiny of the agency’s Troop F, which patrols the Monroe area and the surrounding parishes.
Brown and another trooper, Randall Dickerson, 34, are also charged in a July 2019 drug arrest of another Black man after a traffic stop on Interstate 20 in Ouachita Parish. Body-worn camera captured Dickerson striking the man five times “towards his head and administering a knee strike to his body,” according to court records.
Brown also was arrested in December on battery and malfeasance charges in another incident involving a man who says authorities followed him to his house, dragged him from his car and beat and kicked him, breaking his ribs.
Federal authorities separately are investigating troopers from the same troop in the death of Greene. Troopers initially blamed 49-year-old’s death on a crash at the end of a high-speed chase. But photos of Greene’s car showed little damage and his family’s attorney says bodycam footage shows troopers choking and beating the man, repeatedly jolting him with stun guns and dragging him face-down across the pavement.