A federal jury acquitted a white Louisiana state trooper charged with violating the civil rights of a Black motorist despite body-camera footage that showed the officer pummeling the man 18 times with a flashlight. The case of Jacob Brown was the first to emerge from a series of FBI investigations into troopers’ beatings of Black men during traffic stops in Louisiana. It underscored the challenges prosecutors face convicting law enforcement officials accused of using excessive force, the Associated Press reports. After a three-day trial in Monroe, jurors found Brown not guilty of depriving Aaron Bowman of his civil rights during a 2019 beating that left Bowman with a broken jaw, broken ribs and a gash to his head. Brown, 33, defended the blows to investigators as "pain compliance."
Brown’s defense attorney, Scott Wolleson, said, “The men and women of the jury recognized the risks law enforcement officers like Jacob Brown face on our behalf every day.” Bowman’s attorney, Ron Haley, said the acquittal “shows it’s incredibly hard to prove a civil rights violation in federal court.” He added that the attack had “fundamentally changed” Bowman’s life. “He was low-hanging fruit for Jacob Brown,” Haley said. The acquittal comes as federal prosecutors are scrutinizing other Louisiana troopers caught on body-camera video punching, stunning and dragging another Black motorist, Ronald Greene, before he died in their custody on a rural roadside. That federal probe is also examining whether police brass obstructed justice to protect the troopers who beat Greene after a high-speed chase. Body-camera footage of both the Bowman and Greene beatings, which took place less than three weeks and 20 miles apart, remained under wraps before the AP obtained and published the videos in 2021.