Four Louisiana state troopers who turned off their bodycams to dole out beatings to suspects in their custody have been arrested and charged for using excessive force.
After a lengthy internal investigation, the Louisiana State Police announced that George Harper, 26, Dakota DeMoss, 28, Jacob Brown, 30, and Randall Dickerson, 34, would all face charges of simple battery and malfeasance in connection to a 2019 incident and a 2020 incident, according to an official release on the agency’s Facebook page. They were placed in police custody Monday afternoon.
“The unjustifiable use of force by our personnel is inexcusable and tarnishes the exemplary work of our dedicated men and women of the Department of Public Safety,” Col. Lamar Davis, Louisiana State Police superintendent, said in a statement Monday.
The first incident involved a traffic stop in July 2019. After discovering narcotics in the vehicle of a man in Ouachita Parish, both Brown and Dickerson placed the man in handcuffs. The officers then turned off their body cameras and allegedly used excessive force (the release offered scant details). The two troopers then falsely reported that the suspect had resisted arrest during the encounter.
The second incident occurred during a pursuit in Franklin Parish last May. After officers successfully deployed a tire deflation device during the chase, the suspect exited his vehicle and surrendered by lying flat on the ground, according to the state police. But instead of taking the driver into custody, Troopers Harper, DeMoss, and Brown deactivated their bodycams and used excessive force while placing the suspect in handcuffs.
Brown failed to record the troopers’ use of force in subsequent police reports and failed to provide video evidence of the 2020 encounter. He will be the only officer to face an additional charge of obstruction of justice in the recent string of arrests.
This is the second time Brown has been arrested for use of force. In December, he was arrested on second-degree battery and malfeasance charges, according to the Associated Press. In the May 2019 case, Brown and unidentified troopers tailed a Black man back to his home, dragged him from his car and beat him, breaking his arm and several ribs and causing lacerations. In that case, he also failed to record his use of force in police reports.
Louisiana State Troopers have been under public scrutiny for other matters in recent months. In October, local Louisiana news station WAFB obtained audio from a now-deceased state trooper admitting he was one of the officers who tased, choked, and beat Ronald Greene, a Black man, to death even after he allegedly surrendered after following a police chase in May 2019.
“I beat the ever-living f--- out of him,” state trooper Chris Hollingsworth, who died in a car crash last September, said in the audio. “We choked him and everything else, trying to get him under control.”
Bodycam footage of the incident has not been released to the public. Both a federal civil rights investigation and a state investigation into Green’s death is still on-going.
Law enforcement officers deactivating their bodycams during key moments of their encounters with the public have become a common ground for both disciplinary action and policy change in U.S. police departments. Just last week, Minneapolis instituted a new policy requiring officers to refrain from turning off their body cameras while on the job, even if they’re having private conversations.
As of 2019, nearly half of the U.S.’ law enforcement agencies had employed the use of body cameras at some point, according to the Washington Post, with some smaller departments canceling the program over costs last year.