Prosecutors have charged three white Louisiana state troopers for allegedly beating a Black man named Antonio Harris in 2020, then bragging about it in text messages amongst themselves.
The incident began when Harris was pulled over on Interstate 20 near Franklin Parish for a minor traffic violation. During the stop, the trooper learned that Harris had a suspended driver’s license and outstanding warrants.
Harris fled the scene, which began a 29-mile high-speed chase before a tire-puncturing spike strip brought the pursuit to an end — but it was only the beginning of Harris’ problems with the officers.
Court records show that the three white troopers, Jacob Brown, Dakota DeMoss and George “Kam” Harper, brutally beat Harris and seemingly enjoyed it.
In February 2021, the troopers were arrested for felony charges of malfeasance in office, but last week local prosecutors chose not to include that count. The state police officers are, however, facing misdemeanor simple battery charges.
According to testimony and bodycam footage, after the troopers caught up with Harris, they began to beat him for resisting, though Harris said he had already surrendered.
“They kept saying ‘Stop resisting’ but I was never resisting,” Harris said. “As soon as they got to me, one of them kneed me in my face. One of them was squeezing my eyes.”
Video shows the officers beating Harris with a flashlight and fists, kneeling on him, tasing him, even lifting him up to his feet by his braids. Harris was left spitting up blood and suffered from sore ribs and body aches for days.
Investigation showed that after the incident, the officers exchanged text messages that read, “He gonna be sore tomorrow for sure” and “Warms my heart knowing we could educate that young man.”
Other texts in the conversation frequently mentioned “lol” and “haha” when discussing the beating. One message talked about how the “whoopin'” would give Harris “nightmares for a long time.”
Reports added that Brown, Harper and DeMoss were part of a notoriously violent division of troopers that patrolled the northeastern part of the state. DeMoss was even involved in the violent killing of Ronald Greene, a Black man who was dragged and beaten to death by police outside of Monroe, Louisiana in 2019.
In Harris’ case, an internal investigation found claims that Harris fought the troopers and resisted arrest were “wholly untrue.”
Sources say that for months federal prosecutors have been investigating if excessive force was used or not. It’s currently unclear if the U.S. Justice Department will proceed with a civil rights case.
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