Louisiana prosecutors have charged three state troopers accused of beating a Black motorist, hoisting him to his feet by his hair braids and bragging in text messages that the “whoopin’” would give him “nightmares for a long time," reports the Associated Press. The misdemeanor simple battery charges in the 2020 arrest of Antonio Harris came amid mounting scrutiny of the state’s premier law enforcement agency over allegations of excessive force — particularly against Black people — and an instinct to cover it up. Jacob Brown, Dakota DeMoss and George “Kam” Harper, who are white, were seen on body-camera video piling onto Harris after a high-speed chase that ended next to a cornfield in rural Franklin Parish, kneeing, slapping and punching him even though he had surrendered face down with his arms and legs splayed.
State police spokesperson Lt. Melissa Matey said the troopers’ actions “are inexcusable and have no place in professional public safety services.” State police had arrested the troopers in February 2021 on felony charges of malfeasance in office. Local prosecutors elected not to bring that count last week. Misdemeanor simple battery in Louisiana carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. “Obviously we would have liked stronger charges but we’re still hopeful the Department of Justice will bring a case,” said Harris’ attorney, Michael Sterling. A federal grand jury in Lafayette has been hearing testimony in the case. It remains unclear whether the U.S. Justice Department intends to move forward with a civil rights case. A similar uncertainty hangs over the federal investigation into the deadly 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene, another Black motorist beaten by state police. The Justice Department is increasingly skeptical it can bring a successful case against the troopers.